There once was a time Brad Meadows was knocking on doors in the outside sales world, hoping they would open for him to get the next big score in a sale for the firm he represented.
Meadows then transitioned into teaching and coaching baseball, where he was working to see some big numbers on the scoreboard for the Horn Lake High School team he helped to coach, while also teaching and later serving as assistant principal there.
Today, Meadows, the DeSoto County Schools (DCS) Administrator of the Year, is leading Lewisburg Middle School in helping to open doors for students and their teachers to succeed and put up big numbers in their education and life experience.
Meadows was selected among the administrators at the different schools in Mississippi’s largest district to be honored and to represent it later this year as the state Department of Education determines its state Administrator of the Year.
The DCS school board held a function to honor him after its Monday afternoon meeting in Hernando.
Involved in education since 2005, Meadows determined investing in the lives of youngsters brought a greater dividend than working in sales.
“I did outside sales for about 3-4 years before I got into education,” Meadows said. “I felt like there was more to life than just making money. You want to feel like you’re making a difference in something and I wanted to go start coaching baseball, so I got hired at Horn Lake High School as assistant baseball coach.”
Meadows taught for eight years at Horn Lake and later became athletic director and assistant principal before his move to Lewisburg, where he has been the last five years.
His leadership has brought Lewisburg Middle into elite status for schools at its grade level, having been named for the second-straight year last October as Mississippi’s top middle school in the state’s accountability rankings.
“It’s a group effort here,” said Meadows. “From the office staff to the parents, absolutely the teachers and the students, I think we have that perfect mix of awesome teachers. We have students wanting to learn and we have parents wanting to back it up.”
However, the high regard Lewisburg Middle School is afforded as a leader in education comes with high expectations.
“If you’re a student here, you are expected to be successful,” said Meadows. “If you’re a teacher here, you are expected to perform and you stand out if you don’t. Success looks different for everybody and I try to tell students, ‘you give me your best effort and a good work ethic and you’re going to be successful.’”
Meadows, a graduate of Northwest Mississippi Community College with a bachelor’s degree from Tennessee-Martin followed by a master’s degree from Arkansas State, believes success for all comes from the service and support he can provide his teachers.
“I make no bones about it, the teachers and the staff are the most important resource in the building,” he said. “They’re the ones on the front lines every day and in the trenches with the kids. An effective teacher is the biggest factor in student achievement, so if I can do whatever I can to make it easier on the teachers, then I feel that is what my role should be.”
While many may try to stay away from the daily grind of working with middle school youngsters, Meadows said he feels he is in the right place.
“It’s the first time that these youngsters are dealing with peer pressure, academic pressure, how to be friends with people and stuff like that,” Meadows noted. “They are so impressionable. At this age, you can make a bigger difference and more of an impact here.”
A lot of that comes from Meadows’ daily interaction with the students, trying to spend as much time outside of his office as he does inside.
“The most fun I have at my job is when I am interacting with the kids, whether it’s getting with them in the classroom, going to PE every once in a while, or sitting down with the kids in the lunchroom,” Meadows said. “I try to do that as much as possible.”
And, don’t look for the principal’s office there to have a new occupant there any time soon, if Meadows has his way.
“I’m definitely happy here, I’m where I’m meant to be and where I want to be,” Meadows said. “I have no desire to go anywhere else but if God opens up those doors, then we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”
Bob Bakken is Staff Writer and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.