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School leadership and community supported personalized learning

“The school system is the cornerstone of the community. If schools are ‘great schools,’ then everything in the community becomes great.”

I had a chance to talk with Dr. Cederick L. Ellis, Sr., Superintendent of the McComb School District in Mississippi at the AASA conference in New Orleans last March. Ellis comes from a rich family history of educators, including a father who started out as a classroom teacher and eventually became a college professor. Ellis broke away and started a career path in computer science, but chose to leave the pursuit in exchange for the family tradition of education.

As superintendent, Ellis realizes the limitations of state funded programs. The Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) hasn’t been fully funded for years, and Ellis must rely on alternative funding including grants from philanthropic organizations and local business partnerships. The community stands behind the funding efforts because they understand that a district thrives when schools are enhanced.

Personalized learning is important to the McComb School District. Last year the district launched a K-4 personalized learning school that will be a 1-6 next year. Every student has an individual personalized learning plan, and traditional grade levels have been eliminated. Chronological age still groups students, but they progress at their own pace and receive continuous feedback. The plan is to eventually roll out personalized students for all schools in the district.

Ellis is proud of a progressive approach that treats teachers as “teacher practitioners” providing the tools and dashboards necessary to propel the student learner.

About Dr. Cederick L. Ellis, Sr.

Dr. Cederick L. Ellis, Sr. has been the superintendent of Mississippi’s McComb School District since July, 2013. In his time there, he launched the district’s first student-centered teaching and learning school. The district has also been awarded $2.5 million in grant funding for accelerating student achievement as well as an Apple ConnectED competitive grant.

Prior to McComb, Dr. Ellis served as Superintendent of the Shaw School District where he was recognized for transitioning the district from “financial distress” to “financial stability”.

Earlier, as Director of South Buffalo Charter School in Buffalo, New York, he oversaw student score improvement on the New York State Math Proficiency tests by 14% and on the English Language Arts Proficiency exams by 6%.

He began his career as a computer science teacher, and he has served in a variety of positions including teacher, principal, project coordinator and evaluator, in Georgia and Mississippi school districts and colleges.

Cederick earned his B.B.A in computer information systems and his M.B.A. in Business Administration from Delta State University, Cleveland, Mississippi. He received his Ph.D. in Education Administration from Jackson State University, Jackson, Mississippi.

Follow Dr. Cederick Ellis on Twitter

This article was originally published on the Huffington Post

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