New Albany's Garrett named state's top superintendent

NEW ALBANY – New Albany School District Superintendent Charles Garrett has been selected as the 2011 Mississippi Superintendent of the Year.
Garrett’s selection was announced by the Mississippi Association of School Administrators at its meeting Tuesday. He will represent the state in the national competition sponsored by the American Association of School Administrators. That selection will be made in February.
“He is a leader for change, and he has done a substantial amount of improving the quality of education in his school,” said Anna Hunt, executive director of MASA.
Garrett has worked in education for 35 years, including 10 as New Albany’s superintendent.
“He is very deserving of the award because he has been a forward-looking administrator for our school district,” said New Albany School Board President Bernice Bailey. “Our motto is ‘Leading the way in excellence of education,’ and that is what he has tried to do. He has tried to keep us on a level of continuous learning.”
Both Bailey and fellow school board member Bobby Gault praised Garrett’s ability to lead and to communicate. They also emphasized his good listening skills.
“It is an unusual asset,” Gault said. “You talk to some people and think they’re listening but nothing happens. You can talk to Dr. Garrett, and if he thinks it is worthwhile, he will see that it takes place. It does not have to be his idea.”
Under Garrett’s leadership, the district has built a new elementary school and remodeled its middle and high schools. In the state’s new accountability model, the district is ranked High Performing, the second highest of seven levels.
He’s also helped the district install a dual-enrollment program that allows its students to also earn credit at Northeast Mississippi Community College and Blue Mountain College.
“I appreciate the consideration,” Garrett said. “I think it says more about our town and our community and our district than it does about me.”
Robert Merritt, the principal at Hickory Flat Attendance Center, worked with Garrett in New Albany for eight years. He said that Garrett shows concern for the teachers and students around him.
“No matter how much work has to be done in academics or improving student achievement, his No. 1 thing every day and every year is to make sure that the kids are taken care of and and that they’re safe,” Merritt said. “He does those other things well too.
“He is one of the good guys in this business.”
Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or chris.kieffer@djournal.com.

Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal