“This Fall will be challenging due to the current world circumstances,” said Foster. “Our goal is to provide a quality education in the safest environment possible. We are not fully sure what this will look like as the year progresses due to COVID, but our goal will remain the same.”
While Foster claims Oxford as his hometown, he has lived in multiple places because of the work he has done throughout the years. “I have been blessed to serve in a variety of communities. I feel that all of those communities have influenced me and helped me grow personally and professionally,” he explained. “I have worked in schools in Tupelo, Laurel, Newton County, and now Cleveland. My wife, Cydney, served as a music and youth director in churches in Tupelo, Laurel, and Decatur, which allowed our work in the communities to extend outside of the schools. We were part of many different community outreach ministries through the years as well as youth and children outreach and mission opportunities. I also served as a den leader for the cub scouts in Decatur for three years and have coached youth soccer in Meridian and youth baseball in Laurel, Decatur, and Cleveland.”
Foster said each of those communities are home in some ways because of the relationships they have developed through the years.
“Both of my children were born in different towns and have grown up in multiple communities,” said Foster. “I have two boys. Gabe will be a 9th grader at CCHS this year. Tom will be a 5th grader at Hayes Cooper. They are both involved in sports and activities in the community and the schools. My 9th grader has been on the CCHS swim team since 7th grade and has participated in the music and theater programs in the district. My 5th grader plays baseball and football through the park commission and is on a local travel baseball team.”
Foster, who holds an undergraduate degree and a master’s degree from The University of Mississippi, has worked in education for 18 years and has served in a variety of jobs over the years.
“In Tupelo, I served as a middle and high school teacher, intramural sports director, head junior high baseball coach, an administrative intern. In Laurel, I served as assistant principal for Laurel High School,” he said. “In Newton County, I served as principal of Newton County High School (6th-12th grade) for three years, then for four years I served as the director of curriculum, assessments, accountability, and federal programs for Newton County School District.”
Foster noted that he is proud of the work he was part of at each location.
“I was part of some growth and change at each place. In Tupelo, I was nominated twice as the Create Foundation Teacher of Distinction for Tupelo Middle school, I was also tasked with starting the Junior High baseball program,” he added. “In Laurel, we inherited a school that was going on MDE school improvement due to test scores and accreditation issues. Our team was able to correct all of the issues and drastically improve scores to move Laurel High out of MDE school improvement. In Newton County, we saw a lot of academic growth. We added new activities and sports and we were blessed during those years to move the district to a Top 15 district in the State and an A rating in State Accountability.”
Foster has also served as educational consultant and served for two years on a national panel for McGraw-Hill for their educational software division.
He and his family made an easy transition into Cleveland as he said it is a great community.
“It was a great opportunity for my family,” he said. “We have lived in most regions of Mississippi. This was an opportunity to move back to North Mississippi, be closer to family, and be part of great schools and a terrific community. The schools here offer so many opportunities for kids from the classes offered at all levels to the amount of activities and ways to get involved. For example, my oldest is now loving a sport (swim) that he never had an opportunity to participate in anywhere else we have lived. My youngest is getting to participate in quality youth sports in the community. We love being here and are eager to continue to build relationships and be a part of the community.”
As Foster finishes his second year at CCHS, he said those have been two very good years.
“We have a great faculty, staff, and student body. Over the past two years, we have been able to add some unique classes that we hope students enjoy and can possibly aid them in future careers.”
Under his direction, the school has added: Broadcast Journalism; Law Related Studies; African American Studies; Biomedical Research; Microbiology; and Advanced World Geography. He doesn’t take all the credit, however as he said he is blessed to get to work with a great team of educators, a great student body, and great parents.
“I have enjoyed getting to become part of the community and getting to work with our teachers and students on a daily basis,” he said. “Schools and the communities they serve are so intertwined. Great schools and great communities go hand in hand. I enjoy working at and building that relationship.”
Even with new challenges ahead, Foster said the teachers are working hard to learn a new online system that will aid in online instruction.
“They are in the process of looking at how to adapt what they do each day to a variety of possible scenarios. I think our faculty is as ready as one can be with all of the unknowns at the moment. We have a great group of professionals that I know will be able to adjust to the changing situations,” he explained.