McNairy Central looks ahead to another year
By Megan Smith
As Cecil Stroup begins his 11th year as a principal of McNairy Central High, he plans boldly.
“The number one goal is to provide a safe, clean, disciplined environment where students can come and obtain an education they want and deserve and where the instructors can provide that,” he said.
Stroup is hopeful that the discussions on new schools will be fruitful.
“Public education is what made this country what it is. I think sometimes people forget that. Anything that you can do to better serve the people who are going to be running this country in the future, I don’t think you can lose doing that,” Stroup stated.
At McNairy Central, drugs and alcohol have not been huge obstacles.
Stroup stated, “We have not had a whole lot of problems. We don’t tolerate that. They won’t be going to school at McNairy Central for too long if they try to do things like that. We expect people to do what’s right.”
Stroup and his faculty are working diligently to prepare interested students for college following graduation.
Stroup said, “We have a career day here. We have a guidance department that provides students with any information they want about any different college, and we have information on our website.
“We have AP Classes and classes that we teach with UT Martin,” Stroup said.
However, Stroup stresses that he does not believe that higher education is the path for all students.
“Probably 12 to 15 percent of your people are going to go to college to begin with. We probably put too much emphasis on that. I’m a big vocational person,” Stroup stated.
This heavy emphasis on academics, Stroup believes, is making it increasingly difficult for the school to lower their drop-out rate.
Currently, McNairy Central graduates around 90 to 92 percent of their students according to Stroup. However, state mandates are making this number difficult to increase, despite efforts including the A plus learning program.
Stroup stated, “It’s getting tougher because the state of Tennessee is requiring that every student pass four years of math starting with Algebra 1, four years of science, four years of English, and four years of history. I’ve always stated that I didn’t believe that every student should be on an academic path, but it seems to be that some people think they need all that.”
A number of new vocational programs have been started at McNairy Central, including the Science Technology Engineering and Math program and forensics.
“The STEM program is our newest program. It is a kickoff to engineering. It’s in our vocational department. We had it the first time last year. The students seem to love the class,” said Stroup.
Stroup also spoke on the recent debates concerning meal plans taking place in Washington D.C. He does believe that this issue will affect MCHS.
Stroup gave his opinion on the meal plan revisions: “My opinion is that they are going to get what they want to eat anyway. I hope they end up eating what the government tries to feed them.”
According to Stroup, the main problem facing McNairy Central has been cell phones. He believes that their usage has greatly detracted from the educational process.
“I wish the state government would allow us to block the cell phones,” he claimed.
Other problems facing Stroup have included tardies and dress code violations. However, there are rules for each of these issues, and Stroup believes they are solvable.
“You outline what you except of the students, and if they want to try to do it their way, you have to discipline them and make them understand it’s not going to happen,” Stroup stated.
Stroup currently is frustrated by the increasing federal intervention in public education.
“More and more federal and state mandates have come down over the last few years that I really don’t think are doing education too much good. Schools are judged on what you can make on a test. Schools are much deeper than that,” he claimed.
Stroup is proud of his faculty and fellow administration at MCHS.
“I can tell you by listening to kids whether a teacher is teaching or not, and we have some of the most dedicated and most professional people in the field of education that I’ve ever seen. They work extremely hard to try not only to meet testing guidelines, but to help all kids,” said Stroup.
McNairy Central High School
For more information on McNairy Central, visit www.mchscats.org or call (731) 645-3226.