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April 19, 2024

CCMS New Administrators

Johnson and Sparks join Cleveland Central Middle School in 2023

By Mark H. Stowers

The Bolivar Bullet

Cleveland Central Middle School started the 2023 school year with new administrators. Veteran educators, Dr. Authur Johnson and Cathy Coleman Sparks are serving as the new principal and assistant principal. Cleveland Central School District Interim Superintendent Dr. Lisa Bramuchi is excited about the new leaders and the experience they bring to the nearly 500 student school. 

“I am very pleased and fortunate to have found two perfect candidates to lead our middle school from its failing status to a successful school,” said Bramuchi. “Dr. Author Johnson and Mrs. Cathy Sparks are already making a great team and changing the culture and climate of Cleveland Central Middle School. I honestly believe that students, parents and the community are going to be very pleased with the way we have restructured Cleveland Central Middle School. Great things are happening at CCMS.”

Johnson is no stranger to the Delta area educational scene. Though he lives in Greenville and grew up in Simpson County, he’s come home in a special way.

“I am a Deltan. I’ve been here since 1997,” he said. “I’m excited about what we’re going to do at the middle school. This is the first school building (former East Side High School) where I interned more than 20 years ago so now that I am principal I feel I have come full circle.”  

Johnson attended Millsaps College for his undergraduate degree and then received two Masters’ Degrees – one from Delta State University and one from The University of Mississippi where he also received his doctorate. Johnson previously coached football and power lifting at TL Weston and Greenville Weston (after consolidation) in Greenville. He transitioned into administration 20 years ago and has served as Pearman Elementary School Principal and most recently the Director of Alternative Education in the CCSD. 

“This first semester, it’s all about establishing a positive school culture,” said Johnson. “There are good teachers here. My dissertation was on Positive Behavior. We start with a behavior matrix and the students know those expectations all over the school. They know what to expect when walking into the cafeteria. We teach that and we model that. They know what to expect in the hallways and classrooms. We teach them how to behave. How to walk, how to talk. We emphasize giving the students praise for doing the right thing.”

Johnson, is married to Leneatra Brownlee and is the father of two adult children and has one grandchild.

Sparks, a Cleveland native and 1988 Cleveland High School and Delta State University alum, has been part of the Cleveland Central School District for many years. She formerly taught at Hayes Cooper as a sixth grade math/science/social studies teacher, part of the leadership team and part of the after school program.

“In my new position I oversee the curriculum and instruction and that being said, we’re working on a lot of new things,” said Sparks. “Developing independent learners, deepening their core skills, exploring new interests and keeping students engaged and motivated.”

Sparks, who married to Melvin Sparks and has three biological children, one step-daughter and three adopted children (from her deceased sister) has garnered several teaching awards. Her accolades include Teacher of the Year in 2017 as well as District Teacher of the Year in 2017, Second Congressional Teacher of the Year in 2017, DAIIS through DSU that same year. Sparks was recognized by DSU in 2021 as an Outstanding Educator as she teaches an adjunct class at DSU.

“I work summer school, after school and Saturday school,” said Sparks. “I love what I do and I’m passionate about what I do. It excites my heart and fills it with joy when I see students learning and when they get that ‘aha’ moment.”

Sparks notes her husband, Melvin, has been a huge supporter of her career.

“He’s been helping me a lot during this transition doing everything possible to make easier. He has been hauling furniture, cleaning and painting and doing whatever we need done at the school,”  she said. 

New principal Johnson has goals for Cleveland Central Middle School and striving for excellence is a high priority.

“Our goal is to make this school the best middle school in the tri-state area,” said  Johnson. “The journey of a thousand steps starts with one.”