State Board Member, Retired MDE Leader Receive 2018 MASA Awards

Dr. Kelly

Mississippi State Board of Education member Dr. John Kelly was awarded the 2018 Friend of Education by the Mississippi Association of School Administrators at MASA’s Fall Leadership Conference. The award goes to a person who has shown outstanding support for Mississippi public education throughout his or her career as an educator, administrator, or leader in the educational arena.

Dr. Kelly’s career has allowed him opportunity after opportunity to make a difference in the lives of adults and children. During his time with the federal government, he worked as regional director for Community and Family Support, he directed the operation of a multi-faceted program that encompassed mental health counseling, skills for living training, family advocacy and funeral honors details for service members and their families at 11 Naval installations around the southeastern United States, Cuba and Puerto Rico. For 24 years, he served as an adjunct professor at the University of Southern Mississippi, where he taught sociology, social psychology, and adult education.

Dr. Kelly has served on numerous boards including the National Board of Directors for the American Cancer Society, the United Way and in 2011 was appointed by Mississippi’s Governor Haley Barbour to serve on the State Board of Education, where he continues his service today and represents Mississippi as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the National Association of State Boards of Education.

Dr. Kim Benton (center) with MASA Board President Cory Uselton and State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carey Wright

MASA presented Dr. Kim Benton, former chief academic officer at the Mississippi Department of Education, with the 2018 Golden Lamp Award. The Golden Lamp Award is presented to those individuals who over the course of their career have demonstrated the type of leadership and determination it takes to make a real difference in the lives of children.

A Mississippi educator for 37 years, Dr. Benton has remained faithful to what’s important. She understands the role of an administrator, a leader, and a follower. Her contributions to public education in Mississippi have been nothing short of remarkable. Since 2010 she has been instrumental in implementing college and career ready standards for all students, the Literacy-Based Promotion Act and the Early Learning Collaborative Act as well as influencing the advancement of the State Board of Education’s Strategic Plan.