During his appearance at Tuesday’s Columbus Rotary Club, Germain McConnell announced he’ll be leaving the Mississippi School for Math and Science in December after 10 years at the state-run public residential high school, the last eight as the school’s executive director.
McConnell will move to the Oxford School District. Without doubt, it will be Oxford’s gain, but our loss. During his tenure at MSMS, McConnell has provided the leadership that has allowed MSMS to maintain its status as the state’s most outstanding high school and one of the best in the nation, a continuing source of pride for a state whose achievements in K-12 education have often been far less than desired.
His will be big shoes to fill, but we can take comfort in the knowledge that the foundation for continued success, which began in 1987 — long before McConnell’s arrival — will continue. Since opening 33 years ago, MSMS has proven to be a model and inspiration for public education in the state, drawing high school juniors and seniors from all parts of the state. The student body, now at 247, reflects the state’s demographics. It is a model of diversity in a public school system that has grown steadily less diverse over the years.
MSMS students largely have one thing in common: They are highly motivated. But in other ways, the students we find at MSMS on the Mississippi University for Women campus are much like students everywhere.
Each year, MSMS seniors attract millions of dollars in scholarships. Students have left MSMS to continue their education at many of the nation’s most prominent universities and have established successful careers in a wide array of fields. Those who return to Mississippi are often leaders in their communities.
But the benefits of MSMS go far beyond the school and its students. Since the start, MSMS has proven to be a great asset for the city of Columbus. Its annual 8th of May Emancipation Celebration and Tales from the Crypt programs have proven to be among the best cultural/entertainment events in the city.
Much like a university, MSMS attracts a high caliber of teachers from across the nation, many of which are deeply involved in the community.
Meanwhile, MSMS has implemented educational outreach programs to school-children throughout the state, hosting educational camps and competitions that enrich lives and enhance education. MSMS students regularly serve as mentors in area elementary and middle schools.
During its 33 years, MSMS hasn’t only been a model and inspiration for public schools, but a source of pride for our entire community.
McConnell’s contributions should not be overlooked or underestimated. As the “face of MSMS,” he will be missed, certainly. But we can take comfort in the knowledge that the role of MSMS will continue after his departure.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.