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Hirsch chosen to lead arts school

After months of searching for a new leader to direct theMississippi School of the Arts, the State Board of Education hasfinally passed down its decision – and she starting her newposition today.

New MSA Executive Director Suzanne Stack Hirsch was appointed inAugust and begins her tenure at the school Tuesday. She workedpreviously for the New Orleans Ballet Association, MSA PrincipalJana Perry said.

“She was the director there and managed many a grant and helpeddo fundraising and programming,” Perry said. “She also brought thearts into the public schools down there.”

Hirsch said today will be a day to start meeting with facultyand staff and trying to find common ground in their vision for theschool.

“My first goal is to meet all the faculty by department andreally get to know what the departments’ strengths and weaknessesare, to know what their needs are, where they are now and how totake them successfully to the next place,” she said. “I want tomake sure that … we’re making right changes for the school andstudents, because this school has been doing great work and we wantto see that continue.”

MSA students and faculty had enjoyed their time with interimdirectors Carol Alderman and Ken Acton, Perry said, but it will benice to have a permanent leader at the helm.

“We’re very excited about her coming on board and finally havingsome strong decisions made,” Perry said. “We’ve had to hold off onsome things because they were waiting on a new director to beappointed. We’re excited to start a new year.”

And the students at MSA are understandably curious about what’sin store as well, Perry said.

“The kids are excited to meet her,” she said. “This is really aneat time in Brookhaven and for the Mississippi School of theArts.”

Perry said Hirsch, who has her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree fromthe University of Southern Mississippi, brings a strong vision forthe school with her, and that she will undoubtedly be involved inmany facets of school goings-on. Her background in and love ofdance should be a big positive too, Perry said.

“She seems like a very hands-on director,” she said. “And shewas very excited to hear that we had started the dance program thisyear.”

The new director and her husband and son moved to Brookhaventhis weekend. She said she has had some time to see and get to knowthe campus.

“During my interview and again on the 21st when I visited, I’vebeen able to see some of the new buildings in renovation or aboutto open,” she said. “I’ve seen all the ones currently open at themoment.”

Hirsch, who grew up in Philadelphia, Miss., is excited to getback to a smaller-town environment.

“Brookhaven’s a really great town,” she said. “I’m fromMississippi, and it feels like coming home to m. The people and thetown have been very welcoming, we’re very excited to get to meetall the people in the community.”