Administrators for Statesboro’s Charter Conservatory for Liberal Arts & Technology, also known as CCAT, have chosen a new director to head the school.
Effective July 1, Corliss Reese, previously Assistant Director of CCAT, took the helm of Bulloch County’s only charter school.
Reese, 34, succeeds longtime director Kathy Harwood, who had served in the post since the school opened its doors in 2002.
Reese has worked with the Charter Conservatory, and served a role in the education of Bulloch County students, for more than a decade.
“I have worked my way up the ladder, as I started working with children at 18 when I was a counselor for the recreation department’s after-school program. I then became a paraprofessional for a few years and, eventually, a teacher at CCAT,” Reese said. “I quickly rose at CCAT as a middle school team leader, then curriculum director, federal programs director and assistant director of the school.”
A native of Thomson, Reese attended both Georgia Southern University and Western Governors University.
Reese said he is passionate about the work and excited to continue his career in the new role.
“What excites me about this position is that I get to help kids,” he said. “I love working with kids and helping them achieve their goals. Being in this position, I can make decisions that benefit the children we serve.”
Reese said he hopes to use the office to increase the quality of education provided by CCAT.
“My goals for Charter Conservatory include making sure that the school is one of the leaders in education here in Georgia,” he said. “The way we go about doing that is by making sure every child has a chance. If we have more kids succeeding and graduating, we’ll become a leader in education. The biggest thing is getting students to graduation. We are at a 92 percent graduation rate now, and would like to eventfully reach a 100 percent mark.”
The school’s graduation rate already exceeds those of the Bulloch County school district (69 percent for the Class of 2011) and the state (67.5 percent).
Reese said a first step to improving that number is already being taken.
“Right now, an area of focus for us here is to improve our math program. We want to get the program to a place where students are succeeding and being introduced to math in more than just the traditional ways,” he said. “We have brought in two new teachers that I believe will be great at designing a new math program for us.”
Another focus will be marketing the school to a new audience, and helping people better understand how the charter operates. Reese said he would like to see more recognition for a school that he believes has, thus far, flown under the radar.
“I want to change the myths and fallacies that have clouded Charter Conservatory over the years. Some people believe this is an alternative school for students who have been expelled from traditional school, that we’re a school only for the gifted, or that we’re a private school,” Reese said — noting that CCAT is a public school serving children of all ability levels. “My plans to accomplish these goals start with showcasing our successes more and building a stronger relationship with the community at large.
“I also look forward to the possibilities of developing a better working relationship with the local board of education, so that Bulloch County can be known as a place where education works for all of its students,” he said. “We all want to see students thrive and succeed and what better way to do it than to reach out, work together and create strong partnerships.”
The Charter Conservatory for Liberal Arts & Technology teaches students in sixth through twelfth-grade levels, focusing on constructivist and multi-literacy learning.
CCAT currently enrolls approximately 145 students.
Jeff Harrison may be reached at (912) 489-9454.