Two MDE Leaders Set to Retire

Jean Massey (left) and Dr. Kim Benton are retiring from the Mississippi Department of Education at the end of June 2018. Both have worked in public education for more than 30 years.

Dr. Kim Benton, chief academic officer at the Mississippi Department of Education, and Jean Massey, executive director of secondary education, will retire from the MDE on June 30 after decades of service in public education.

Dr. Benton has worked in public education in Mississippi for 37 years. She began her work in education as a teacher’s assistant and spent her career in the Meridian Public School District as a teacher, principal and executive director of special populations and federal programs before joining the MDE in 2010.

Through her work at the MDE, Dr. Benton’s contributions to public education in Mississippi have been tremendous. Dr. Benton joined the department at an exciting time, as the state was just beginning to implement major education reform efforts. Dr. Benton oversaw the implementation of college and career ready standards for all students, the Literacy-Based Promotion Act and the Early Learning Collaborative Act, and has been instrumental in advancing the State Board of Education’s Strategic Plan. Statewide student achievement has improved steadily under Dr. Benton’s leadership, and every academic indicator the state measures is on the rise.

Jean Massey has worked in public education for 32 years, starting as a teacher, then moving up to assistant principal before serving as principal of Northwest Rankin High School for 12 years.

Jean has worked at the MDE for the past 10 years and has been instrumental in leading multiple key initiatives within the department. Her work has focused on building strong programs that prepare students for college and careers and on building relationships between the workforce, post-secondary institutions and school districts.

Jean helped the state launch the state’s first early college high schools, implement a statewide computer science initiative, build a strong partnership with the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, and develop diploma endorsement options that will challenge students to advance their college and career goals while in high school.

Effective July 1, Dr. Nathan Oakley will become MDE’s chief academic officer, and Wendy Clemons will become executive director of secondary education.