“I realize that the best of my college days were at EC,” Waldrop said. “My mind drifts back to the campus, the dorms, the faculty, the basketball games, and other fond memories. I see this honor as being one of the highlights of my life because of my fond feeling about the time I spent at EC.”
Dr. Waldrop, a Morton native, currently serves as the Executive Director of the Mississippi School Boards Association (MSBA), a position he has held since 2004. MSBA is a nonprofit organization that provides training, state and federal legislative advocacy, technical assistance, and information to public school boards and school superintendents across the state.
In addition, he serves as Trust Administrator for the MSBA’s Workers’ Compensation Trust, and Property & Casualty Pool.
“One hundred percent of the public school systems are members of MSBA, and the majority of school districts participate in one or more of our insurance pools.”
Dr. Waldrop previously served as Deputy Executive Director of the Mississippi School Board Association from 2000-2004.
During his tenure, MBSA has grown in both size and scope.
“We have been able to enlarge the Association (MBSA) from a small, somewhat obscure organization to an organization looked upon by educators and state leaders as an organization capable of providing solutions to complex problems,” Dr. Waldrop said. “I am also pleased that the organization has increased its number of employees, its financial position, and its ability to offer more specialized services to school board members and school districts, especially in the technology area.”
From 1987 to 2000, he was employed as Superintendent of the Senatobia Municipal School District was Assistant Superintendent for Special Education Services, Curriculum and Federal Projects from 1982 to 1987.
He said, “As a school superintendent, I took great pride in the fact my school district was one of the top academic school districts in the state and that we were able to balance the academic side of education with a strong extracurricular program.
“In my 14 years as school superintendent, our students consistently scored in the top 5% of school systems on state test and the high school won The Clarion~Ledger All Sports Award for the best overall athletic program in the state, in its classification, 10 or 11 out of my 13½ years as superintendent of schools.
Dr. Waldrop began his career as a teacher and coach at Senatobia High School from 1970 to 1978. He served as an administrative assistant for the Senatobia Municipal School District from 1978 to 1979 and as middle school principal/administrative assistant from 1979 to 1982.
He has spent a combined 44 years in the field of education in Mississippi.
Dr. Waldrop credits his parents, W.J. and Lo Waldrop, with teaching him early in life the benefits of hard work.
“They offered tremendous support and love to me in whatever endeavor I undertook and instilled in me an extremely strong work ethic, “Dr. Waldrop said. “Looking back, I cannot say I ever outsmarted anyone, but can say I did out work a few people.”
A fellow educator who had a profound impact on the young teacher was his first boss.
“As a young person straight out of college, C.R. Rials, the superintendent of the Senatobia Municipal School District where I worked, took me under his wing. Through his influence, I matured both spiritually and professionally. I owe him greatly for my success,” Waldrop said.
Dr. Waldrop was also quick to recognize his wife, Sondra, for always supporting his endeavors.
“My wife, Sondra, has stood by me in the easy and difficult times. She is my best friend and my retreat. Nothing I have accomplished would have been possible without her love and support.”
Dr. Waldrop acknowledged East Central Community College with providing the focus he needed to complete his education and succeed in his chosen career.
“EC matured me,” he said. “When I arrived at EC, I was not properly focused. Through the influence of the faculty, I began to change, although slowly and with the gnashing of teeth, from an unfocused adolescent to someone with a purpose. This paradigm shift gave me purpose, and the quality of education I received while at EC equipped me to succeed in my career.”
What memories highlight his time at East Central?
“My fondest remembrances center on basketball games, dorm life, and the interaction with the EC faculty. I can remember leaving on the ‘yellow dog’ on Thursdays for a basketball road trip and getting back to EC late at night on Friday or Saturday. The games, the people, the coaches are all still vivid in my mind,” Dr. Waldrop said.
He added, “I also reminisce about the professors and my time in class. Looking back, I now realize how fortunate I was to have such capable professors. I learned in spite of myself. More importantly, what I learned in class at EC has stayed with me.”
As with many former students, the names of Thrash, Vickers and Clark appear among a long list of Dr. Waldrop’s favorite instructors.
He said, “After a semester of world history under Mr. (Tommy) Thrash, I was convinced that my life’s career would be a community college history professor. To this day history is my primary hobby.
“I still apply the life lessons Mr. (Ovid) Vickers taught me using English Literature. Ode to a Louse always kept me from becoming too serious about myself. And then there was my basketball coach, Joe Clark. The lessons I learned from Coach Clark were not fully appreciated until years later, the most important lesson being that basketball is temporary, but being a person of high morals is forever. Coach Clark was truly a good man, and I owe him much.”
Dr. Waldrop does admit to one comical blunder involving an intimidating professor and the chemistry lab.
He explained, “I will never forget how intimidated I was by my chemistry professor. I was struggling with chemistry my freshman year and wanted to remain obscure to my professor. In chemistry lab I had just lined up all the chemistry paraphernalia (test tubes, jars, Bunsen burners, etc.) I would be using in conducting a chemistry experiment when the professor walked up, startled me, and I knocked everything off the lab table; glass was everywhere. The rest of the semester the professor used me as an example of how not to prepare for chemistry experiments! So much for obscurity!”
In addition to his duties with the Mississippi Association of School Boards, Dr. Waldrop currently serves on the National School Boards Association (NSBA) Liaison Committee, which attempts to shape national education policy working through NSBA.
He has also served on the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) Blue Ribbon Commission for the Redesign of Administrative Preparation, the Mississippi Institutes of Higher Learning (IHL) Blue Ribbon Committee for the Redesign of Teacher Preparation, and the MDE Career Pathways Oversight Committee.
Dr. Waldrop has served on numerous other state committees including the MDE Advisory Committee on Dropout Prevention, the University of Mississippi School of Education Alumni Chapter Board of Directors, and the Board of Directors of the Commission on Secondary and Middle Schools of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and was appointed by the Governor to serve on a state policy team to oversee the development of a “turnaround” plan for underperforming schools.
He is a former member of the Mississippi Commission on School Accreditation, the Mississippi Effective School Consortium, and the National Assessment Governing Board.
His community involvement includes serving as past president of the Senatobia Rotary Club and the Tate County Economic Council, a Baptist deacon, and a Rotary International “Paul Harris Fellow.”
Dr. Waldrop’s honors include being recognized by the Mississippi Association of Superintendents for outstanding educational leadership and the prestigious “Golden Lamp” leadership award from the Mississippi Association of School Administrators.
He received the “Excellence in Leadership Award” from the Delta Rural Systemic Initiative, the “Distinguished Alumni Award” from Delta State University, and “Alumni of the Year for the School of Education” by the University of Mississippi.
Dr. Waldrop earned a Ph.D. and a M.Ed. in educational administration from the University of Mississippi and a B.S.E. from Delta State University.
He and his wife, the former Sondra Baugh, have been married 45 years. They have two sons: Jason Baugh Waldrop and his wife, Christine, who reside in Oxford; and William Dirk Waldrop and his wife, Michelle, who live in Mountain Home, AR. The Waldrops have eight grandchildren: Fisher, Elise, Worth, William Brick, Tyler, Gabe, Sara and Jase.