Ira Childress didn’t set out to be a trailblazer while he was playing college football at Ferris State, but that’s exactly what he has turned out to be.
Childress, 42, was recently recognized by Meridian Township for being the first African-American administrator in the history of Okemos High School.
Okemos is one of the top performing academic and athletic schools in the state of Michigan. It was honored as Bridge Magazine Academic State champs.
“Although I did not necessarily set out to be a trailblazer four years ago, it has been an honor to be the first person of color to serve in a leadership role at such a prestigious school,’’ Childress said today. “It was not easy in the beginning, but it’s turned out to be an amazing experience that gets better each day.”
Since he has been at Okemos the school has:
- Constructed a new strength and conditioning center.
- Secured an all-department deal with Adidas to provide increased coast savings and brand identity.
- Created the Okemos High School Hall of Fame.
- Secured a partnership with Court One Tennis Club to provide funding for new courts at the school in the fall of 2015.
- Initiated and developed partnership with Sparrow Sports Medicine to help cover the majority of costs for a full-time athletic trainer.
- New scoreboards have been installed for the football stadium, soccer field; baseball and softball fields, among other improvements.
“He’s amazing,’’ said Principal Christine Sermak. “He has truly transformed our athletic department. He has taken us to the next level through his creativity, leadership and passion for student athletics and athletics as a whole.’’
Former professional and Michigan State basketball player Greg Kelser has known Childress for 15 years and has always been impressed.
“I got a chance to go up to his high school (Baldwin) and speak, and they have a high regard for him,’’ said Kelser. “I’ve always liked Ira. I’ve kind of watched his development. … It seems like all he gets involved with he really immerses himself into it with passion and purpose.”
Contact Perry A. Farrell: email@example.com