Dr. Cederick L. Ellis, Sr. is Superintendent of Schools for the McComb School District in McComb, Mississippi. The McComb School District is a public district serving approximately 3,000 students in grades pre-Kindergarten to twelfth grade. It includes one elementary school, one middle school, one junior high, one high school, an early childhood center, and a business and technology complex.
For more than 20 years Cederick has been regarded as a leader focused on creating and sustaining a positive student-centered environment that fosters and develops academic proficiency and strength. Dr. Ellis launched the district’s first student-centered teaching and learning school. The district has also been awarded $2.5 million in grant funding for accelerating student achievement as well as an Apple ConnectED competitive grant as a direct result of his focus and dedication.
Prior to assuming the superintendency in McComb, Dr. Ellis served as Superintendent of the Shaw School District where he was widely recognized for transitioning the district from “financial distress” to “financial stability”.
Earlier, as Director of South Buffalo Charter School in Buffalo, New York, he streamlined the schools data and management systems utilizing PowerSchool and student scores on the New York State Math Proficiency tests improved by 14% and on the English Language Arts Proficiency exams they increased by 6%.
He began his educational career as a computer science instructor, and he has served in a variety of positions, including teacher, principal, project coordinator and evaluator, in Georgia and Mississippi school districts and colleges.
Cederick Ellis earned his B.B.A in computer information systems and his M.B.A. in Business Administration from Delta State University, Cleveland, Mississippi. He received his Ph.D. in Education Administration from Jackson State University, Jackson, Mississippi.
AN INTERVIEW WITH CEDERICK ELLIS
How do you see today’s superintendent?
I am of the belief that the world is flat and our educational system has essentially remained the same for the past two decades. As a result, today’s superintendent must be challengers of the status quo in order to successfully lead a thriving educational system that will serve 21st century digital natives. I see today’s superintendent as the chief instructional visionary possessing the 21st century leadership skills of innovation, creativity, collaboration and relationship building. Although knowledge is power, today’s superintendent must have collective power, and that requires collective knowledge that can only be acquired through collaboration. Only together will today’s superintendent have everything they need.
What new understandings or insights did you acquire after two or three years on the job?
After three years of serving as a superintendent I came to the following understandings:
•If you are serious about serving others effectively, you must be attuned to their specific needs. That requires you to see value in other people.
•Everyday someone is watching how you handle problems; how you treat your family and your employees; how you act when there seems to be no one around; and how you respond in the face of great adversity, life challenges, criticism or temptation.
•Respect those who have expertise and experience greater than yours.
•"No" doesn’t mean never; often it means "not now".
•Be careful what you allow into your mind, because your thoughts can control your leadership.
Share an idea to use or something you’ve learned that might be helpful to a new superintendent.
As a leader, your days will be filled with making tough choices and challenging decisions. Some of which may come under intense pressures. You may not always get what you want but you will always have to live with the consequences of your choices and decisions. Therefore, what you choose to do under pressure will result from the convictions you live by or the convictions you’re willing to compromise. To others, your choices and decisions will reveal who you really are.
Whenever you are in doubt regarding your choices and decisions, revisit your process and assumptions. Too often leaders are guilty of making assumptions about people. Never make assumptions about someone’s background, profession, race, gender, age, nationality, politics, faith, or other factors. This normally will cloud and limit your decision making process.