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Interim MSA director happy to lend a hand

Carol Alderman said she’d never been to Brookhaven before sheaccepted the fill-in position of Mississippi School of the Artsinterim director while the Mississippi Department of Educationsearches for a new leader for the school.

“I’d always seen the signs but I’d never gotten off theinterstate,” she said. “But I love it. My husband came to visitlast weekend and I had to take him and show him everything.”

Alderman, who calls Oxford home but has also lived in OceanSprings and Columbus, was the director of the Mississippi Schoolfor Math and Science for several years.

That made her a shoo-in for the interim position at MSA. Alongwith a knowledge of how a residential school works and ofadministrative and recruiting issues, Alderman brought with her aknowledge of the students.

“The students at the two schools are very similar,” she said.”The applicant pools are a lot of the same kids.”

And both schools offer those students a chance to grow andflourish, she said.

“That’s what you see at both schools is that they come out oftheir shell because they’re not trying to cover their talents ortheir skills,” she said.

During the drama surrounding the Legislature’s failed bid tomove MSA to MSMS earlier this year, Alderman said she watched withinterest.

“They’re both certainly better off where they are,” she said.”Both have great facilities and it would do those students a greatdisservice to quickly try to put them all on one campus. That kindof move, if you’re going to make it, should take severalyears.”

She also added that the facilities at both schools are speciallytailored to the needs of the curriculum, as MSMS doesn’t have thekind of classrooms and dance studios and things needed for the artstaught at MSA.

Alderman, whose background is as a medical technician, said shestarted off interested in leadership at a community college ortechnical school level, but that she found herself on anotherpath.

“I fell in love with the profession,” she said. “I found Ireally enjoyed the teaching part. Once I got in the public highschool environment, I never looked back.”

She has worked in the classroom, in administration, and in thecentral office, but Alderman said her preference is to be on campuswhere she can get to know the students on a one-on-one basis.

“That’s what is a great thing about this situation,” she said.”You’re on campus with the students and you get to know each one ofthem. That’s a plus at special schools in that you still have theopportunity to do that.”

But to the question of who will fill the spot left open by Dr.Vicki Lambert’s retirement, or when that replacement will bechosen, Alderman said she’s in the dark like anyone else.

“I just know they’re coming into a wonderful environment,” shesaid, offering her advice to the new administrator – whoever he orshe may be.

“Keep your eyes and ears open and don’t be quick to judge,” shesaid. “And don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and call people in asimilar situation, because this is a very different setting thanother public schools, and there are a lot of support people outthere at MSMS or the School for the Blind and Deaf.”