After being superintendent with the New Albany School District for 11 and a half years, Dr. Charles Garrett is moving on to a new position with the newly formed Wellspring Center for Professional Futures. This transition will be effective June 30.
Garrett’s previous titles include being principal at Olive Branch for eight and a half years, he worked as assistant principal at Horn lake for one year, and also has worked in education in Arizona and New Mexico. Garrett has worked a combined total of 38 years in education.
Over these years at NASD, he said that one of the biggest changes he has seen is an increase of online presence. Originally, the school names were Mattie Thompson, B.F. Ford, New Albany Middle School, and W.P. Daniel High School.
“I thought it would be good to have all of the schools named after the town. It would bring a bigger presence at the state level, nationally, and internationally and make it a lot easier for people to find the schools online if they were all named after New Albany,” said Garrett.
A few of the changes during Garrett’s tenure were that the New Albany Elementary School was built in August 2001 and NAHS and NAMS were renovated. Another change is the addition of the district handbook, which put policies on paper for everyone to see.
“One of the things I have enjoyed the most here at the district was helping develop team leadership. I have really tried to develop every step in the line of authority. If every person is fully realized in their job, we will have the best school in the district,” said Garrett.
“One of the biggest achievements is that we wanted to be predictable and consistent, especially concerning discipline,” said Garrett. “And in the area of testing, what we have always wanted to do is position ourselves successfully so we are at the top so we can excel, and we wanted the community to be proud of the school district.”
As Garrett was superintendent, his children were in school in the district as well, so he was able to see the teaching principles be implemented as both a parent and as superintendent.
He said, “I have really enjoyed having kids in the school when I was the superintendent because I was able to look critically at what the teachers were teaching as I was helping my kids with their homework. I had one kid in Kindergarten and one in the second grade when I became superintendent. I was able to hear the theory that the teachers were trying to teach the students, then was able to go home and participate with my children on that idea or theory. It helped me a lot because my kids went to this district.”
Garrett said that a lot of parents have their kids go to the school district, which he thinks shows the strength of the district.
Since graduation, he has followed several students to college, kept in touch with them online or kept in touch with their family members.
“We have had a lot of students go to a lot of places and be successful. My successes come from other people’s successes,” said Garrett.
Garrett said that the responsibilities of being a superintendent varies, but they include, but are not limited to being a team with the school board and setting a tone in which everyone was made to feel special.
“I saw people, I heard people, I treated them better than most people would treat them. I wanted everything to be a little bit more special here. I wanted the grass to be cut better, the floors cleaner, and more,” said Garrett.
Bowling, volleyball, girl’s soccer and girl’s golf are all sports that have been implemented during Garrett’s tenure.
“I think the adoption of six classifications by the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) was tremendously important to many districts. That has made competing at the state level much more equitable and possible. Robert Merritt and I led that effort in Mississippi,” said Garrett. “I am happy with the renovations on the campus, especially the football station.”
“New Albany is a very special and unique place. I hope people really value that. I hope that people continue to do things to value that. I hope people will continue to do things to make the town better. The school district has had tremendous support. I hope people will continue to value the school district and honor it,” said Garrett. “I hope people can really see what we do have and keep trying to help take what we have and make it better.”
In his new position, Garrett will help establish the Wellspring Center for Professional Futures, which will be a school for junior and senior high school students.
“I am facilitating coordination with the school districts in professional development and bringing the Wellspring project on line. It will have options that are not offered to students here. This school will be for students in any high school in Pontotoc, Union, and Lee counties,” said Garrett.
Jackie Ford has been assistant superintendent for seven years and now he is serving as interim superintendent.
“Mr. Ford has done a great job. The school board voted 5-0 to make him interim superintendent. There is a certain sentiment for him to take the superintendent position immediately. I want to thank the school board for continuing support,” said Garrett.
“The most challenging part of being superintendent all of these years was sickness and death over all of these years. One of the most sobering experiences is watching close-knit people go through a fair amount of sickness and death. We need to all be grateful for what we have what is best for new Albany and what is best for the school district instead of how can I flourish,” said Garrett. “Between my family, this school district and my church family, I want to thank everybody. I leave here as a person that has no hard feelings about anything. I really have loved it here. And I am happy to say that we are fiscally sound.”
“Finally, I want people to know that our school staff are impacting students everyday. So many students have tremendous problems and difficult life experiences. Our teachers, coaches, counselors and administrators help students put their lives together on a daily basis,” said Garrett. “Support staff work tirelessly to help those students who need it. I hope our town will continue to honor these heroes. They truly change the lives of our youth every day.”