Rory Doyle


A new leader will greet students at Bell Academy when they return to school on Tuesday.

Dr. Jerry Kitchings has been named the interim principal for the magnet school, filling the position left vacant by the retirement of Dr. Debbie Fioranelli.

Cleveland School District Supt. Jackie Thigpen said she appreciated Kitchings for coming out of retirement while the district continued its search for a permanent principal.

"We asked and he agreed," she said, adding that Fioranelli had related it was just time to retire.

Kitchings, who has over 30 years of teaching experienced, retired in 2004 as an associate superintendent with the district.

"He has a great deal of experience," said Thigpen. "He was the first magnet principal at Hayes Cooper. He understands how the magnet school is done and what is expected with the evaluations."

B.L. Bell Elementary School was transformed into B.L. Bell Academy in 2010 and focuses on science, math and health.

Fioranelli, who has a doctorate degree, was named principal at the time, although she lacked an administrative certificate.

At her appointment, plans were made with the Mississippi Department of Education to get her certified and Thigpen said Thursday that she had received her certification.

Thigpen said plans are to hire a new principal and have that person ready to take over by July. She added two top qualifications for the job were administrative certification and knowledge of the magnet program.