3Qs: Charles Garrett, New Albany superintendent

By NEMS Daily Journal

New Albany Superintendent Charles Garrett is retiring from his job in July to lead establishment of the Wellspring Center for Professional Futures, operated with funds from the Toyota educational endowment. His title hasn’t been determined, but he’ll be responsible for helping to get the school off the ground. Daily Journal Business Editor Dennis Seid interviewed Garrett via email about his new job and the Wellspring Center.

Q. For those who aren’t quite sure what the Wellspring Center is for and why it’s being developed, can you give a brief summary?
A. The Wellspring Center For Professional Futures will be exactly what the name implies – a center to provide opportunities for future professions. It will be our charge to provide unprecedented opportunities for high school juniors and seniors in the PUL Alliance districts to access instruction in professional areas such as energy, architecture, aviation, automotive, health care, marketing, communications, design and electronic media. In the next several months, we will search the country and beyond to find state-of-the-art programs of study. We will not duplicate courses already available in PUL Alliance School Districts.

Q. How will your experience help in developing the program at the Wellspring Center, and what do you see your role there to be?
A. One of my goals is that each course offered at the Wellspring Center will offer dual enrollment and dual credit with either two- or four-year colleges. This type effort will require cooperation and coordination with the Community College Board, the Institutions for Higher Learning, the Mississippi Department of Education and state government. Toyota’s gift of $50 million, the cooperation of the PUL Alliance and the leadership of CREATE brings an unprecedented opportunity for these entities to work together to benefit the students in our districts.

Q. Many people support the idea of the center, but aren’t quite sure of all the details and the logistics involved. How do you ease their fears and concerns?
A. The best way to ease fears and concerns for the unknown is to develop concrete plans for the logistical issues. We have identified regional centers currently in operation that have developed various strategies to logistical restraints. We will learn from them while working with our superintendents, principals, and guidance counselors to develop our plan of action.
I want to move from a concern about the unknown to a clear understanding of how things will work. At that point school boards, administrators and school site personnel will be able to plan accordingly.