Marshall files her last board minutes
SHE'S SEEN IT ALL Mary Ann Marshall takes a moment to reflect on her three decades of service to the Meridian Public School District. She accepted her first job with the district in 1969, secretary of Mt. Barton Elementary School, a position that paid $1.70 an hour.Photo by Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star.
By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
June 23, 2002
Mary Ann Marshall's last minutes were approved by the Meridian School Board on Monday the final installment in 20 years worth of board minutes she has recorded.
Ed Lynch, vice president of the school board, said he's going to frame them.
Marshall, who is retiring at the end of the month, has worked for the Meridian Public School District for 33 years. She has served under nine superintendents and was administrative assistant to six of them.
She has seen the number of state guidelines increase, and the tenure of superintendents shrink, over the years.
Green as a gourd'
Marshall's first job in the school district was as secretary of Mt. Barton Elementary School for the 1969-1970 school year. She was hired over the phone at a wage of $1.70 an hour.
The late Hyweeda Robinson was principal of the school, located where the Multi-County Community Service Agency is now, on St. Paul Street.
Marshall said she was looking for a job that would be compatible with taking care of her three school-age children.
At the central office
In 1980, Marshall left Mt. Barton to work as a secretary for Dr. George Cannon, the district's assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.
That position introduced Marshall to central office life with an episode she will never forget her first meeting with the late Charlie Armstrong, the long-time principal of Meridian High School.
Marshall said everyone in the central office came running because they thought something dire was happening but the tantrum paid off for Armstrong.
Dr. Cannon, now superintendent of the Monroe, La. school district, said Marshall's recollection is probably correct.
In 1982, Cannon became superintendent of Meridian schools and Marshall accepted the position she has held ever since under superintendents Cannon, Larry Drawdy, James Vance (interim), Jayne Sargent, Richard Hill (interim) and Janet McLin.
Cannon, who has also served as superintendent of schools in Little Rock, Ark., said in a telephone interview this week that he has never known anyone who had quite the intuitive sense of what to do in a situation as Mary Ann Marshall.
A recent letter to Marshall from former Meridian schools superintendent Larry Drawdy, now superintendent of the Biloxi Public School District, said: "I appreciated your work during my years as superintendent in Meridian, your helpful and cooperative spirit and the exceptional level of efficiency and competence you brought to a demanding and sometimes frustrating job.
Marshall said one of the biggest pleasures in her work has been getting to know the people who have served on Meridian's school boards.
Fred Wile, Meridian school board president, called Marshall an institution.
Marshall said: "A school district has to be run like a business. Of course you have to have compassion and there's the personal and emotional side of it, too, but I think the business expertise that people like Fred Wile bring to the board is something we have to have.
Tina Dozier will become the next administrative assistant to the superintendent, and Marshall has been showing her the ropes this month. Dozier has been with the school district for 15 years. For the past eight years she has been secretary to Sylvia Autry, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction.
On the horizon
Marshall and her husband of 45 years, Sam, plan to feed their passion for travel now that she is retiring and take their motor home to some of their favorite spots in Tennessee, Colorado, the Pacific Northwest and the East Coast.
The Marshalls have three grown children: Scott Marshall and his wife, Lisa, of Meridian; Martha Gore of Meridian; and Alan Marshall, of Washington, D.C. They also have five grandchildren they plan to spend more time with.
Marshall said the school district's greatest asset is its personnel.