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Cox will be leaving North Pike on a high note

Under Dr. Ben Cox’s leadership, the North Pike School District raised its performance ranking in the Mississippi Department of Education’s accountability program from a grade of D (Academic Watch) in 2012 to B (high performing) in 2013.

Ben Cox

Ben Cox

Now Cox is preparing to take over the reins of the Brookhaven School District, where he will be hoping to help turn around a district that has ranked at the D level for two years in a row.

“We think Dr. Cox will be a wonderful addition to the school district. He has a proven track record and we look forward to working with him,” Brookhaven School Board President Willie Harrison said Monday night after a specially called meeting of the board.

Cox, who lives in Bogue Chitto, will take office in Brookhaven Jan. 1. He will remain at North Pike until the end of the year.

On Monday in a phone interview, Cox talked about some of the programs that have served the North Pike school district well and what ideas he might implement in Brookhaven.

“There’s no silver bullet, no magic formula, really,” Cox explained. “If something worked at Pike, we kept it. If it didn’t work, we got rid of it.”

While North Pike’s graduation rate is now at 71.7 percent, Brookhaven’s graduation rate stands at 61.6 percent, more than 10 percentage points below North Pike’s current level.

Cox mentioned two programs that he says helped at North Pike.

“Grade recovery and credit recovery are two programs that have helped with increasing graduation rates in the past,” said Cox.

One program is intended to allow the student an opportunity to make up for a failed class, the other is meant to provide the student the resources to improve their current grade.

“Both programs are very proactive. There are a number of reasons students don’t do well in class or in a particular subject. These programs are tailored to the student’s schedule. If a student is serious about doing well in school, these are two great ways to increase their chances of graduating,” said Cox.

Cox said that the most significant changes happen slowly, over time. He mentions how important it is to pay attention to details.

“By analyzing test data, we can determine which students we need to help and concentrate on.”

“At the end of the day, all credit goes to the teachers, principals and administrators,” Cox said. “One of my key philosophies, however, is to let the teachers teach. I believe it’s my job to provide them all of the resources that allow this,” he said.

“I believe in providing the staff as much freedom as possible if that means a greater commitment to the student.”

Since former superintendent Dr. Lisa Karmacharya departed in June, Stephanie Henderson has been serving as the interim superintendent of the Brookhaven district.

Henderson intends to stay with the district. “I’m not going anywhere. I’ve been serving two roles for the last six months. For now, I’m going back to my previous position full-time,” said Henderson, who will continue as interim superintendent until Cox comes on board.