By Josh Troy
Dr. Virginia Young’s three older sisters went into the educational field, and she has followed in their footsteps for nearly 30 years. Young, a 1988 Lake High School graduate, has worked at schools in Mississippi since 1994 and is bringing her experience to Coahoma County. She was named the Coahoma County School District Superintendent and began her tenure in Dec. 2022. She succeeds Dr. Ilean Richards as the superintendent.
Young graduated in 1992 from the University of Southern Mississippi with a Bachelor’s degree in political science. “At first, I didn’t want to go into education because I majored in political science,” she said. “I was going to be an attorney. Then, when I graduated, I just did not have that desire. I had three sisters who were teachers.”Young’s older sister, Dr. Earlene Bradford, convinced her to be an educator. Young’s older twin sisters, Charletta Finley, and Pauletta Lyles, are also educators.
Young graduated from Jackson State University in 1996 with a Master’s degree in educational administration and from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2004 with a doctorate in educational administration in leadership. Young began her educational career in 1994, working for the Jobs for Mississippi Graduates program teaching seniors at Hattiesburg High School. She moved to the Hattiesburg School District alternative school in 1998, where she taught English for two years.
Young worked in her first administrative position as the assistant principal at the Hattiesburg School District alternative school from 2000 to 2004. She then became the assistant principal at Lillie Burney Elementary School in Hattiesburg from 2004 to 2005. Young left Hattiesburg in 2005 to be the principal at NH Pilate Middle School in the Newton Municipal School District and held the position for two years. She was the director of federal programs for the Newton Municipal School District from 2007 to 2008.
Young said she enjoyed working with children and helping them get on the right track, and being an administrator enabled her to impact more lives. “I just started to feel like maybe I could help more than a classroom of children,” she said. “Perhaps I could make a difference for a whole school of children. So that’s why I got into administration and worked my way up from assistant principal to a principal.”
In 2008, Young was promoted to assistant superintendent of the Newton Municipal School District and held the position for two years. She was again promoted to Superintendent of the Newton Municipal School District and held the position from 2010 to 2017. “As a principal, knowing that I’m responsible for a lot of little lives, just being able to put things in place that would help a whole school of students, I started doing that, and I realized I could have a bigger impact on students,” she said. “So I thought maybe I could go even further. So I started aspiring to be a superintendent.”
Young ran the ACT/Reading Lab in the Jackson Public Schools from 2017 to 2018. She returned to the Hattiesburg Public School District in 2018 to help members of her husband, Rodney’s, family. She worked in the alternative school and oversaw the program Building Leader Unveiling Excellence School program. BLUE School is for over-age middle school students who were not going to attend high school, and the program prepares them for the GED test or to attend Job Corps.
Young became principal of the Hattiesburg School District alternative school in 2020 until coming to the Coahoma County School District last December. Young welcomed the opportunity to be the CCSD Superintendent. “Since I had been a superintendent, I knew that there’s an opportunity to help a whole system, and so I desired to be a superintendent,” she said. “So I just started looking, and there was a vacancy here. I’ve been to training here and there but never lived in this area. But I thought it would be a challenge, and I like it.”
Rodney Young is the pastor of two churches in Newton. The Young’s live in Clarksdale, and Young attends a different local church most Sundays. She has enjoyed getting to know the community and people in the CCSD.
“I love it,” she said. “Coming here, the people are very receptive. The people of this district, I can see that they’re ‘Ready to Rise.’ That’s one of my sayings, ‘Ready to Rise.’ They’ve been very welcoming. They’re knowledgeable. The people that I’ve been dealing with, they’re receptive. I feel like, of course, we have to tweak some things, but we’re going to make some great improvements.
Young reflected on her achievements as an educator. The Newton Municipal School District’s Mississippi Department of Education grade improved from a D to C during Young’s seven-year tenure as superintendent from 2010 to 2017. Young said the district’s graduation rate was one of the lowest in the state at around 60% when she took the position, but increased to more than 90% under her leadership. While in Newton, Young said she hired someone to help with a dropout plan for students as young as elementary school.
The district also worked with at-risk students to help them gain employability in the workforce. Young said at-risk students worked on their resumes and were given paid jobs outside of the classroom.
Young also said the district had a “Big Brother” and “Big Sister” program to mentor students who were the most at-risk. The big brothers and sisters visited the houses of at-risk students missing school.
The CCSD’s grade with the MDE is currently a D. Young said being the superintendent for a few years will help the district improve to an A. “One thing I believe in is stability,” she said. “In order to get some things done, you have to be around. And I believe you have to be around for a while. I am committed to staying here to get these things done. I don’t believe you can succeed if you have a superintendent for one or two years, and then they’re gone elsewhere.”
Young said Jonestown and Lyon elementary schools currently have a B grade, and the Coahoma County Junior High School is currently a D. She added she hopes each school improves its mark with the MDE every year.
Some of Young’s goals for the CCSD include having a program where students can take courses at Coahoma Community College and earn an associate’s degree, implementing a JROTC program, acquiring funding for ACT prep courses for students in seventh grade and older, hiring more teachers who are fully licensed and bringing back an arts program. Young has four sisters, five brothers, and two grandsons in Dallas, Texas, and her mother, Mary Moore, recently celebrated her 86th birthday in Lake.