Charter names admin

Published 12:09 am Friday, June 1, 2012

FERRIDAY — While the charter school in Ferriday won’t be sounding any class bells until 2013, the group behind the two-year project selected its top two administrative positions to begin building the program from the ground up.

Charter schools are publicly-funded, independently-operated public schools that do not charge tuition or fees, are open to all students who wish to attend and cannot discriminate when making enrollment decisions.

The charter school in Ferriday will have a math, science and technology curriculum and will be located in the old Huntington School building on Lynwood Drive.

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The Delta Charter group was organized to help push the school’s creation after Huntington School closed in Ferriday in May 2010.

The school will initially open for students in kindergarten through ninth grade and will have a 30-day enrollment process before switching to a lottery system.

After three separate charter applications spanning two years, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education granted the Delta Charter group unconditional approval to open the school in 2013 after approving the group’s director and curriculum coordinator in March.

Clovis Christman of Monroe, La., was selected as administrator for the charter school and Rudy Hennigan of Robeline, La., was selected as curriculum coordinator.

Delta Charter board member Craig Jackson, one of two founders of the board and owner of Cash Express in Vidalia, said the board wanted to give the candidates time at their respective jobs before making an announcement.

After narrowing the list down to six candidates for administrator during the final interview process, Jackson said Christman was a no-brainer for the board, which was seeking a balance of strong academic and disciplinary traits.

“Originally, we thought we were going to go in a different direction with the administrator until (Christman) really showed an interest, and after that, we knew this was the guy that we needed,” Jackson said. “It was just unanimous because he blew us all away.”

Christman received a master’s degree in education administration from the University of Louisiana at Monroe in 2001 and also attended Northwestern State where he earned a specialist in education administration.

Christman is the president of the Louisiana Association of Principals and was recently chosen as the Louisiana representative for the National Association for Elementary Educators.

He will leave his current job as principal at Holly Ridge Elementary in Monroe.

Christman was unavailable for comment.

Also appearing on the final list of administrator candidates was Hennigan.

“During (an) interview he just stood up and said, ‘Guys I can’t be your director because I have to teach. I’m a born teacher, and I have to be in the classroom,’” Jackson said. “And we were already trying to think of ways to get (Hennigan) to be the curriculum coordinator, so after he said that we offered him that position instead of administrator, and he was thrilled.

“We’re really fortunate to have both of them on board.”

Hennigan has 30 hours of graduate work in educational leadership at Northwestern State and a master’s degree in education from Northwestern.

He taught at Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts from 2000 until 2011, teaching computer resources, hardware, networking and introduction to engineering design.

Hennigan said he is excited to begin developing curriculum that he hopes will change the lives of students who attend the school.

“I see (charter school) as a way of letting students see school as more than just jumping through hoops and actually getting them interested and involved in the material,” Hennigan said. “I’m proud that Concordia Parish is going to do this for the students in that area, and I’m looking forward to helping them maximize their educational opportunities.”

The charter school will use a program called Project Lead the Way to teach its math, science and technology curriculum.

The program engages students in activities, projects, and problem-based learning.

Hennigan is a certified instructor in the program and said getting students introduced to material through the program can peak their interest at an earlier age.

“Today, a lot of the material that interests students isn’t being brought to them until the college level, but a lot of people don’t make it to college,” Hennigan said. “I joke and say that if I had this program when I was in seventh through 12th grade — I wouldn’t be a teacher, I’d be an engineer.”

While charter schools are not forced to enroll students based on an attendance zone, the student population of a charter school must reflect the at-risk population in the district where the school is located.

Because the parish is under a federal desegregation order, the group must meet with U.S. Department of Justice officials for desegregation requirements.

The charter school in Ferriday will be a “type-two” charter school, which means it can draw students from the entire state and is not bound to the parish.

The charter school will also not answer to the Concordia Parish School Board, but rather have it’s own board handling internal matters and have BESE as a governing body.

Both Christman and Hennigan will be at a meet-and-greet event at 7 p.m. on June 7 at the new school’s multi-purpose room.