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Familiar face to lead Brookhaven Academy

There is some change at the top at Brookhaven Academy.

     But the change comes in the form of a familiar face as Julie Wright has taken over the headmaster position after previously serving as principal of the elementary school. She has replaced Mike Sumlin, who left in March.

     Wright, 48, has been interim headmaster, but will drop the interim title in June and become headmaster.

     This is Wright’s 18th year at BA, where she began as a first-grade teacher and spent seven years there. She then moved on to be elementary principal for 11 years before becoming interim headmaster.

     Wright graduated from Brookhaven High School before attending Hinds Community College and graduating from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1986. She received her master’s degree in education administration in 2003.

     Wright is the wife of Jimmy Wright and they have two children together.

     Wright said her time on board so far has been busy preparing for the end of school in May and readying for the start of the next school year in August.

     “We just finished up early registration, which guarantees students a spot in the fall,” Wright said.

     She added that registration remains ongoing but spots will be awarded on a first come, first served basis. Pre-school classes at the school are already full for the 2012-2013 school year.

     Wright said maintaining the school’s mission statement was at the forefront of her plans for BA.

     “The most important thing for me is to keep our mission statement in mind, which is to educate the whole child,” said Wright. “We pride ourselves in providing a quality education in a Christian environment.

     “We want to continue to offer the best college preparation education possible and prepare our students for life after BA,” Wright said.

     Wright said she thinks it’s important for all schools to be successful for an area to succeed.

     “We’re an alternative to public schools, not a competitor,” she said. “We want to see all schools do well.”

     Tuition will rise just $5 for the upcoming school year, something Wright said is important.

     “We wanted to increase for inflation, but not too much for our families,” she said. “We thought $5 was enough to accomplish that.”

     There are 474 students enrolled for the current school year, according to school records. Of those, 265 are in kindergarten through sixth grade and 209 are in seventh through 12th grades.

     Brookhaven Academy has been busy recently, according to Wright, with a range of things going on.

     The school will purchase new computers in an effort to keep up with ever-changing technology over the summer.

     “We always are trying to keep our technology current,” said Wright. “We rotate computers around campus from year to year with the newest ones going in the classrooms for teachers to use.”

     On another front, BA is working on its campaign for funding to build a fine arts building.

     “We already offer classes in art, drama and music, but they’re just taught in the gym,” Wright said. “We’d like to give those areas their own building and be able to expand our offerings in fine arts for our students.”

     BA has already acquired access to land on the south side of the campus that will serve as the elementary school playground and the pre-school playground will be redone with equipment donated by the Junior Auxiliary on the current elementary playground land.

     “It’s important for the smallest students to have their own playground space because at that age it’s something they need,” Wright said.

     One thing that is not new, but Wright is proud of, is the school’s dual enrollment program with Copiah-Lincoln Community College where students at Brookhaven Academy can come back in the afternoon and take up to 12 credit hours in total on BA’s campus taught by BA teachers.

     Classes offered are college algebra, English composition 1 and 2 and public speaking 1.

     “Public speaking is a new class that was just offered this year,” Wright said. “We are looking into expanding the number of classes taught with Co-Lin or offering Advanced Placement classes.”

     Students as young as sophomores who qualify are eligible to participate in the program and get ahead for college.

     “The majority of our seniors participate in dual enrollment,” she said.

     For the senior class of 2012, 21 of the 35 seniors are enrolled in the dual enrollment program.