Newly appointed Meridian High School principal, R.D. Harris says he's on a mission.
"After I get my feet wet and understand what's going on, you're going to see a lot of changes."
Changes which he says will include working to attract initiatives such as the International Baccularte program to encourage student achievement and lead to more national merit scholars from the school.
For the past 13 years, the longtime educator has worked with the State Department of Education as deputy superintendent. His job was to work hands-on to help ailing schools get back on track. One of the most recent school systems that he worked with was in Okatibbeha County. Once rated near the bottom in the state in testing, the district's scores have improved significantly.
During the late 1980s, Harris was principal at Meridian High. At the time he says the school was known for academic achievement and can be again. However, he says first, all of the schools within the district must work together even more.
"Meridian High School is no better than Kate Griffin, Northwest, Magnolia, Parkview, Oakland Heights or Poplar Springs Elementary," says Harris. "So, those are our building blocks because we can't get students in the 10th grade and suddenly make geniuses out of them."
Another area Harris plans to address is the band. Because this group plays a big role as school ambassadors in the community, principal Harris promises that something will be done to increase the size and quality of the band program and the school's fine arts programs in general.
With school set to reopen in less than a month, Harris says his goal is to build on the programs at Meridian High and work to eliminate or adjust those that don't
"You're going to see a lot of changes. I can promise that!" says Harris.