Dr. I. D. Thompson Retires from Aggie
CLARKSDALE – When Coahoma Agricultural High School principal Dr. I.D. Thompson was approached for an interview about his retirement, he flashed a signature smile and quipped, “You’ve got two days.”
Although his multi-faceted career spans 41 years in education, he says the decision to retire came quickly one day in May.
“It was an awakening,” he said after computing the years since his first day on the job in 1972.
“In a split second, I knew to hand it off,” he said.
“I thought, ‘You’ve done good, left nothing undone, and you can go; it’s time to retire ’” he continued.
Telephoning state officials in Jackson, Dr. Thompson was told a June 30 retirement date was possible if he started the paperwork.
“Immediately I became a lame duck principal,” he smiled.
Despite the jocularity, Dr. Thompson’s career in education reflects a distinctive dedication and creative approach to student development.
Employed initially in Mississippi’s Department of Education, he became a theatre professor at Kennedy-King College in Chicago. He taught at Jackson State, Tougaloo College, Mississippii Valley State University, and Le Moyne-Owen College.
Later with great trepidation and an inner voice reminding him “Someone helped you; don’t you think the boys and girls at Mound Bayou deserve the same thing,” he became principal at John F. Kennedy High School.
He had never taught in high school, but with assurances from a Higher Power to go with him, he accepted the challenge.
Six years ago, he became principal at Aggie and launched a fast-paced daily routine starting with the 6:45 a.m. arrival of buses.
From his professional theatre background, he likens it to an unpredictable production – “A show with scripts changing from moment to moment.”
“It was like riding a bucking horse,” Thompson said..
If problem students were sent to his office for discipline, Dr. Thompson did not meter out physical punishment.
“I asked them to explain why they did what they did,” he said. “They had to think about it” and that took some time, he said.
“Most students have never had an adult talk to them” except to yell marching orders or criticism,” he said. “I tried to promote their success; successful students work, and I always said, ‘do your best.’”
Dr. Thompson is looking forward to traveling and a vacation in Central America. He has a number of interesting projects waiting in the wings.