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Dedication of former superintendent remembered

NATCHEZ — A former superintendent and longtime Educator for Natchez Adams School District died last week at 78 years of age.

Hoskin dedicated nearly 50 years to the NASD as a teacher, administrator and later as the district’s first Black superintendent in 1993.

Friends and family of Willie James Hoskin knew him to be a trailblazer and father figure to more than just his three children, they said.

His daughter, Myra Hoskin Mallet, said she and her younger brother, Erick Hoskin, and older sister, Jolanda Thomas, all graduated from Natchez.

“My entire kindergarten through 12th-grade education, he would have been in administration,” she said. “I knew he was an administrator, but he was our dad. There was no cutting classes or cutting up in school because my parents would know. He and my mom (Lillie) gave us a great foundation and a great education that has helped develop us into the adults that we are and we pass that on to our kids.”

Myra said her father’s love and compassion extended well beyond her household. Her childhood home was a playground and her father the adopted dad of many children throughout her neighborhood, she said.

Myra said her house had an open lot and field where other children would gather to play basketball, baseball or football — whether or not she and her siblings were around to join them.

“It was absolutely wonderful,” Myra said of her childhood. “He was a father figure to many kids throughout our neighborhood who didn’t have the same upbringing that we had. … We all grew up together with my dad being right there.”

Hoskin was loved, respected and knew all of his teachers and students well, said Patricia West, who taught English to gifted students at South Natchez High School when Hoskin was the assistant principal.

“Students loved him. He knew all of their names and walked the campus regularly,” West said. “He was very efficient. He made sure than all the teachers had what they needed. … I’m sure he had obstacles. I was the first Black student at Natchez-Adams High School and I know I did. He never appeared to be rattled by anything and he continued to be effective as an administrator.”

As a former mathematics teacher, Hoskin’s process was always thorough and his rules were consistent, West said.

“With everything he did and everything that he expected us to do, he carried those rules and expectations out,” she said. “He was one that quietly went about his business and did his job.”

Myra said when her dad wasn’t at work being a principal he loved hunting and playing Spades.

He took her brother Erick on his first hunting trips when he was about 10 or 11 years old, Myra said.

“I remember him telling me one story where he’d walked ahead of my brother and the other kids and they encountered a snake. He turned around and they were all standing back, scared of the snake and he told them ‘but you all have guns.’”

To her family and to the many children in her Hoskin’s care, Myra said her dad was regarded as a fearless superhero.

If he ever encountered struggles being a Black teacher or administrator during desegregation he never let it show, Myra said.

“He instilled in us (his children) how to live to meet any challenges,” she said. “He would always say, ‘If you always stay ready, you will never have to get ready.’ Many of the lessons he taught us were with his actions and not in words. We knew it was difficult. My high school was desegregated in 1990, the year before I graduated. …

“In 2020, we’re still having conversations about systemic injustice and racial inequalities. The difference now is that we’re actually talking about it and having those conversations. Back then it wasn’t talked about. We just put our heads down and kept pushing forward. For my dad, and for all of us, we believe education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.”