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On June 16, Mississippi and the statewide educational and athletic community lost a great man and devoted leader with the passing of Walter “Sam” Bounds, who served as executive director of MASS from 2004-2017.

I got to know Dr. Bounds in the late 1980s when he was principal of Clinton High School and I was assistant principal. By that time, he had earned widespread recognition for his many accomplishments as an all-star football player, a successful high school football coach and athletic director, and an effective school administrator.

It didn’t take long to realize how fortunate I was that our paths had crossed, both personally and professionally. Working with him was a formative experience that helped me become a better leader. A few years later, when Dr. Bounds left to become superintendent of the Brookhaven School District, I was named principal of Clinton High School. Thanks to him, I was prepared for the job.

In 2017, I found myself in a similar situation when I came to MASS after Dr. Bounds stepped down as executive director. Nobody knew more than I did that I had big shoes to fill. But like the true leader he was, Dr. Bounds was always there to help whenever I had questions or sought guidance, or just needed someone to talk to.

No matter where he went, Dr. Bounds had a habit of leaving things in better shape than he found them, and that was certainly the case for MASS. He was instrumental in strengthening communication between superintendents and legislators and helped transform MASS into a stronger, more effective advocate for education. It’s no mystery why we named the MASS scholarship program in his honor.

In our 2017 news release about Dr. Bounds’ retirement, this is what he said about MASS: “Without question, these have been some of my most rewarding years. From the start, it was vital to strengthen our network while truly making a difference in the communities we serve. Praise to our membership for understanding the direction we needed to take and getting behind all of our efforts with passion and determination.”

That was Dr. Bounds – always deflecting the spotlight, building up others, and focusing on the greater good. While this is a difficult loss, I can’t help but feel gratitude for having known him and benefiting from the example he set as a friend, educator, mentor, and executive director of MASS.


Phillip G Burchfield

Executive Director



MS School Superintendents


MS Public Schools


School Disctricts


Public School Students


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The Voice of Education in Mississippi

As a leading advocate for quality public education, the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents provides a comprehensive set of professional learning opportunities that equip educational administrators to inspire students to reach their fullest potential every day.

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July 10 - 15, 2022
Beau Rivage
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