Greenbrook Elementary School principal MeLynda Crockett is not one to stay behind the desk in her office during the school day. Crockett is virtually on the move and is encouraging those around her to do likewise.

You see, most days at the Southaven kindergarten-through-second-grade school starts in the hallways as Crockett leads students through an exercise called Minds in Motion. Believing that exercise and movement helps engage her students to be better learners, you’ll see Crockett appearing to be like the Pied Piper, leading the kids in hopscotch-like steps, tossing and catching beanbags and such to get youthful blood flowing and minds sharpened for the day ahead.

“It’s kind of an obstacle course with a balance beam and it changes about every six weeks,” she said. “It’s to strengthen fine motors, core system and vestibular system to get their minds ready.”

Crockett’s innovative means of connecting with her youngsters is among the reasons why she has been chosen to be the DeSoto County Schools’ Administrator of the Year.

“We want our students to be more than just good readers, writers and mathematicians,” Crockett said.

All of the district’s administrators were recognized and Crockett was introduced as the DCS representative for state consideration during a reception late Thursday afternoon at the Central Services offices in Hernando.

“I was very surprised,” Crockett said about being told she was the top administrator. “I was shocked. It means a lot because this is a wonderful district with a lot of wonderful administrators.”

Crockett commutes nearly an hour to work daily from her home in Crenshaw, where she lives with her husband Mark, the Director of Construction at Northwest Mississippi Community College in Senatobia.

She said she has been involved in school administration for nearly 20 years because, as she said, “I truly love the kids.”

There are a lot of youngsters to love inside the walls of the school, which has 546 students enrolled at Greenbrook.

“I don’t have any children so I really take it to heart that I need to take care of these kids,” Crockett noted. “It is all about the children. Even on your worst day, you might be the best thing they see,” added the Greenbrook principal, who has led the school since 2014.

Crockett’s career in education started in DeSoto County as a kindergarten teacher at Walls Elementary School in 1986. After a year there, she spent the next nine years as a first and third-grade teacher at Strayhorn Elementary School.

With a degree in school counseling along with elementary education, educational leadership and a certificate in gifted education, Crockett became the Strayhorn school counselor for two years before moving into administration.

She was first an assistant principal and then principal at Strayhorn Elementary, then became a school transformation specialist in Coldwater.

Crockett’s return to DeSoto County came as assistant principal at Southaven Intermediate before her arrival at the Greenbrook Elementary facility.

“DeSoto County is blessed to have the resources,” Crockett said. “We have things that some districts only dream of.”

Her work has received the attention of her fellow administrators, including Sissy Heyman of Center Hill Elementary School, herself a DCS Administrator of the Year two years ago.

“She is very goal-oriented with one mission in mind and that is to grow her students socially and academically,” said Heyman about Crockett.

“Parents feel welcomed at Greenbrook Elementary because she has opened her doors and allowed parents to be an important part of their child’s education, whether it is by encouraging them to participate in classroom activities, eating lunch with their child, or leadership committees that include parent input,” added Greenbrook assistant principal Pamela Fowler.

This is not the first time Crockett has been recognized for her school leadership. She was named the Tate County Principal of the Year in 1998 and the Tate County Principal of the Year in 2007. Crockett also received the Andrew “Ike” Mullins Outstanding School Administrator Preparation award from the University of Mississippi School of Education in 2000.

Bob Bakken is Staff Writer for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.

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