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Mississippi College Graduate Debra Houghton Named School Administrator of the Year

MC graduate Debra Houghton is the principal at Mannsdale Upper Elementary School in Madison.
MC graduate Debra Houghton is the principal at Mannsdale Upper Elementary School in Madison.

Debra Rowe Houghton is doing a fabulous job as the principal at Mannsdale Upper Elementary School. And education leaders across the state are recognizing her hard work in the Madison County district.

The state’s newly named School Administrator of the Year, Debra earned her master’s degree in educational leadership at Mississippi College. She taught classes as an adjunct professor at her alma mater for several years.

From MC School of Education Dean Cindy Melton to Associate Provost Debbie Norris, Houghton has many admirers on the Clinton campus. They saluted Houghton following the Mississippi Department of Education announcement in late July.

“We are very proud of Debra and her accomplishments both in and out of the classroom,” Melton said. Debra’s husband, Corky Houghton, is a former Choctaws assistant football coach. The couple has been married for 31 years. The Houghton’s three children, Haley, Chase and Kelsey, are all Mississippi College graduates.

A 2012 Mississippi College graduate, Debra is among many stellar educators in the Blue & Gold family working in Madison County schools, Melton said.

Houghton served as principal at Mannsdale Upper Elementary the past six years. She believes educators must work together across districts, schools and communities to help all Mississippi students.

“My most rewarding professional experience as an administrator is watching the growth of my students and teachers,” Houghton said.

She is Mississippi’s National Distinguished Principal. That honor is for educators across the USA recognized by the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

The 2020 Mississippi Administrator of the Year program honors a person demonstrating superior ability to inspire teachers, showing exemplary leadership skills and staying active in their communities. Debra Houghton receives a $5,000 stipend and will share her expertise through presentations to improve education in the Magnolia State.

Mississippi Superintendent of Education Carey Wright congratulated Houghton as well as Benjamin Austin, the Mississippi Teacher of the Year. Austin is a 9th and 10th grade social studies teacher at Petal High.

Both winners showed a high level of commitment to their students and professions. The two award recipients are shining examples of the exceptional educators throughout Mississippi, Wright said.

The alternate Mississippi Teacher of the Year, April Lang, is also a MC education graduate. She is a Forest High math teacher in Scott County. “I wanted to become a teacher to change lives, just like my teachers did for me,” Lang said in an essay for the Teach Mississippi program.

A Mississippi State University graduate, Lang later enrolled at MC’s alternate route program in the School of Education. After graduating at MC, April was offered a teaching position at her childhood elementary school. “Nine years later, I still love being a teacher.”

Today, April Lang is not only a math teacher. She serves as student council sponsor at Forest High in the Forest Municipal School District.

Debra Houghton and April Lang are “a blessing to our Mississippi students,” said Associate Provost Debbie Norris. “Our School of Education provided the education for these two to make this type of contribution.”