MS Board of Education approves director of Early Childhood Education, manager in school performance

MS Board of Education approves director of Early Childhood Education, manager in school performance
Mississippi Department of Education logo. Photo source MDE

JACKSON, MS (WDAM) - This is a news release from the Mississippi Department of Education

The Mississippi Board of Education (Board) voted today to hire Dr. Jill Dent as the director of early childhood education and Dr. Jamilliah Longino as manager in the Office of School Improvement to work with the state's lowest performing schools.

The new appointments are part of the Mississippi Department of Education's ongoing plan to provide better access to high-quality early childhood education programs and to support and assist underperforming schools. Dent and Longino will begin their new roles in January.

Dent, who earned a master's degree and doctorate in early childhood education, served as the director of the Division of Early Childhood Care and Development at the Mississippi Department of Human Services, from 2009-2014 before assisting the MDE as an early childhood education consultant in 2014.

Dent said she looks forward to leading efforts to expand access to high-quality early childhood programs for all children in the state.

"One of the things I'm most excited about is the Board has identified early childhood education as part of its strategic plan and that sets the stage for the department to move forward on expanding opportunities for early childhood education in the state," she said.

Dr. Kim Benton, chief academic officer, said Dent will be a valuable addition to the department.

"We are extremely excited to be able to hire a person of Dr. Dent's caliber. She has a wealth of experience and expertise, and we look forward to continuing to make early childhood education a priority in the state," she said

A former teacher, Longino earned a master's in secondary education and a doctorate in educational leadership. She has worked in school districts as an administrator in the Jackson Public School District and the Hazlehurst School District. She has served as an assistant principal in the Clinton Public School District since 2012.

Pat Ross, chief school performance officer, said Longino's addition to the already committed group of leaders in the school improvement office will make a significant positive impact on student achievement in low-performing schools.

"The Board members, through its new strategic plan, have a laser-like focus on improving student achievement in all schools, especially those which have a history of low performance. Dr. Longino has a clear understanding of what it takes to improve low-performing schools as well as extensive experience in working with both low performing and high performing schools," he said.

Through her experience, Longino said she understands the different dynamics that impact underperforming schools and high-performing schools.

"I believe very passionately that all children deserve a quality education. I am excited to be a part of this journey to see education soar to even greater heights than before," she said.