Superintendents and Their Years in Office
Mr. N.P. Gates -- 1 Sep 1869 - 28 Nov 1871
Mr. Jacob R. Rightsell -- 28 Nov 1871 - 1874; 1884 - 1905
Mr. J.B. Bond (acting) -- 1 May 1875 - 1876
Mr. J.M. Fish -- 1876 - 1884
Mr. B.W. Torreyson -- 1905 - 1909
Mr. Robert Cleveland Hall -- 1909 - 1941
Mr. R.T. Scobee -- 1941 - 1948
Mr. H.A. Little -- 1948 - 1953
Mr. Ed F. McCuistion (acting) -- 1 Jan 1953 - 1 Mar 1953
Mr. Virgil T. Blossom -- 1 Jul 1953 - 30 Nov 1958
Mr. Terrell E. Powell (acting) -- 22 Dec 1958 - 1 Aug 1961
Mr. Floyd W. Parsons -- 1 Aug 1961 - 30 Jun 1972
Mr. Paul R. Fair -- 1 Jul 1972 - 6 January 1978
Mr. Winston F. Simpson (acting) -- 6 January 1978 - 14 August 1978
Dr. Paul W. Masem -- August 1978 - May 1982
Dr. Ruth S. Steele (acting) -- May 1982 - June 1982
Dr. Edward L. Kelly -- June 1982 - June 1987
Mr. Vance Jones (acting) -- 1 Jul 1987 - October 1987
Dr. George D. Cannon (interim) -- October 1987 - December 1987
Dr. George D. Cannon -- 23 Dec 1987 - 5 Aug 1989
Dr. Ruth S. Steele -- 15 Jul 1989 - 30 Jun 1992
Dr. Cloyde McKinley (Mac) Bernd -- 1 Jul 1992 - 30 Jun 1993
Mrs. Estelle Matthis (interim) -- 1 Jul 1993 - 1 Oct 1993
Dr. Henry P. Williams -- 1 Oct 1993 - July 1996
Dr. Don Roberts (interim) -- 15 Aug 1996 - September 1997
Dr. Leslie V. Carnine -- September 1997 - June 2001
Dr. T. Kenneth James -- June 2001 - June 2003
Dr. Donald Stewart (interim) -- June 2003 - August 2003
Dr. Morris L. Holmes (interim) -- August 2003 - June 2004
Dr. Roy G. Brooks -- July 2004 - August 2007
Dr. Linda Watson (interim) -- August 2007 - July 2008
Dr. Linda Watson -- July 2008 - January 2011
Dr. Morris L. Holmes (interim) -- January 2011 - July 2011
Dr. Morris L. Holmes - July 2011-March 2013
Mr. Marvin Burton (interim)-- March 2013 - July 2013
Mr. Dexter Suggs - July 2013 - April 2015
Mr. Marvin Burton (interim) April 2015 - May 2015
Mr. Baker Kurrus - May 2015 - June 2016
Mr. Michael Poore - July 2016 - June 2022
Dr. Jermall Wright - July 2022 to current
Jacob R. Rightsell (Superintendent from 1871 to 1874 and 1884 to 1905), from Matoon, Illinois, came to Little Rock with N.P. Gates when Gates was selected to be the district's first Superintendent. When Gates was chosen to organize the state's new "Industrial University with a Normal Department therein" and left the school district in 1871, Rightsell was made Superintendent. Before becoming Superintendent, Rightsell was assigned to the Peabody School, according to "Assignments for Fall Session, 1870," and later became Principal of Sherman High School. He remained Principal of the high school as well. At the time of his retirement in 1905, the school district had increased to ten schools, including a modern new high school that was considered to be the best in the southwest. Rightsell served as Vice President of the National Education Association for several years and was one of the originators of the State Teachers Association. He died shortly after his retirement in 1905 and is buried in Mount Holly Cemetery in Little Rock.
Dr. Burr Walter Torreyson (Superintendent from 1905 to 1909) was chosen to replace J.R. Rightsell. He remained in the Superintendent's office for only four years, leaving to accept the duties of state high school supervisor. He later became President of the Arkansas State Normal School (now the University of Central Arkansas), a position he held until just before his death in 1930.
Robert Cleveland Hall (Superintendent from 1909 to 1941) was a native of Virginia. He graduated from the University of Virginia and became an educator in his home state before arriving in Arkansas in 1891. He was a well-known educator throughout the South: he taught English, math, science, French and Latin and served as Principal of Peabody High School in Little Rock before being named LRSD Superintendent. During his tenure as Superintendent, 16 new schools were built: 12 elementary schools, two junior high schools, Little Rock [Central] High School (as well as Quigley Stadium) and Dunbar High School. Hall established the first football team in Little Rock and was known as the "Father of the School Board" by many people. In his letter of resignation as Superintendent, he confirmed that he had given 38 years of service to the district (six as Principal of the high school, one year as Principal of U.M. Rose Elementary School and 31 years as Superintendent). He retired because of ill health.
Virgil T. Blossom (1907-1965; Superintendent from 1953 to 1958) was born in Brookfield, Missouri. After a brief term as Superintendent in Fayetteville, he became Superintendent of Schools in Little Rock in 1953. Shortly after the Supreme Court found segregation to be unconstitutional, Blossom began working on a plan to integrate Little Rock's public schools. After an unsuccessful court challenge, a plan was put into operation in the fall of 1957 to integrate Little Rock Central High School. Blossom became a central figure in the controversy, and he was removed as Superintendent in November 1958. He wrote an account of the crisis, published first as a series of articles in the Saturday Evening Post (May - June 1959) and then as a book, It Has Happened Here. After a short stay in New York, Blossom went to San Antonio to continue his career in education (he was Superintendent of the North East Independent School District from 1959 to 1964). Papers pertaining to Blossom's career as Superintendent in Little Rock were donated to the University of Arkansas in 1997.
University of Arkansas Library web site; Manuscript Collection 1364, Virgil T. Blossom:
Dr. Floyd W. Parsons (Superintendent from 1961 - 1972) was Superintendent of Schools in Texas for 25 years before coming to Little Rock. He taught at the University of Texas, Hardin-Simmons University and the University of Arkansas. Dr. Parsons was a member of the Board of Directors of the National Education Association and a member of its Executive Committee. He also was very active in community affairs, having served as president of the Chamber of Commerce, president of the Kiwanis Club, lieutenant governor of Kiwanis International and a member of the governing board of United Fund.
Dr. Paul R. Fair (Superintendent from 1972 - 1978) became Superintendent on July 1, 1972. He previously served as Principal of Jefferson Elementary, Assistant Superintendent and Deputy Superintendent. He received his doctorate from the University of Arkansas Graduate Center in Little Rock. He served on the State Advisory Committee on Vocational Education for Disadvantaged and Handicapped, the Arkansas State Council on Economic Education and the Governor's Commission on Public School Discipline. He was a member of the Little Rock Chapter of Phi Kappa Delta and also served as its President. Dr. Fair also was involved with the Civitan Club, the Pulaski County unit of the American Cancer Society, the Pulaski County United Way, the American Red Cross and the Downtown Rotary Club.
If you have information about a Little Rock school or photographs that you would like to contribute to this project (we will return photographs if requested), please contact us!
Updated June 2011