3Qs: Lee Childress, Corinth school system superintendent

By NEMS Daily Journal

The Corinth School District is one of three Mississippi school districts participating in the Excellence for All pilot program this year. Under the program, freshmen and sophomores enroll in more rigorous classes with an international curriculum. At the completion of those courses, they take a board exam.
Sophomores who pass their examinations are eligible to graduate early. They also can enroll in the upper division of the program with intense college prep courses and an opportunity to earn college credit.
The Daily Journal’s Chris Kieffer spoke with Corinth Superintendent Lee Childress about the program as other school districts consider whether they will add it in the future.
Q: What advice do you have for school districts considering adding the Excellence for All program?
A: School districts should carefully consider all components of the Excellence for All program when making a decision. Faculty/ staff should review all of the appropriate models and select the one that best fits the needs of the school. Planning should begin now for future implementation because of the time needed for program development, teacher training, schedule revamping, textbook and material purchases and other associated implementation issues. Consideration also needs to be given to how you will coordinate this program with instruction in the middle schools so students will be prepared for the rigor of instruction in the ninth grade year.
Q: Schools can make the program available for a small group of students, but you chose to incorporate it for all CHS ninth- and 10th-grade students. Is this your recommendation for other districts?
A: The decision to offer the program to all ninth- and 10th-graders at Corinth High School was made by the faculty/staff. I believe it is essential to offer this program to all students to enable them to become more internationally competitive and better prepared to compete in the workplace in a global economy. I would recommend that other districts strongly consider making this program available to all students but would urge them to consider faculty, staff and student capacity prior to making the decision. Districts must consider all circumstances and determine what is the best course for their individual school or schools.
Q: What was the most important thing you learned during your preparation for this program?
A. The most important thing learned was how to navigate in an international world. Textbooks for the program are published by international publishing houses and not readily available in the United States. Obtaining information from program providers is sometimes delayed due to their European locations. Finally, when one looks at the international assessments, you truly can see how far we have to go with education in Corinth, Mississippi and the nation to truly prepare our children for the future.

Click video to hear audio