Panola County Charter Schools Superintendent Bud Worley says his district’s mission is to help students.

“The main message is we’re here to help students, and if that’s what allows them to be successful and get that high school diploma so that they can get a job, so that they can go to whatever their next phase of life is gonna be,” he said. “That’s what we’re here for. ... What we try to do is find out what their goals are and to try to help them meet their goals.”

Worley visited a meeting of the Panola County Republican Women last week to tell them about the charter school and its mission. Worley has lived in Panola County all his life, having attended Carthage High School and then teaching at it for many years. He’s been the superintendent of Panola Charter Schools since May 1.

“The first year of school was very easy for me,” he joked. “One month and we were done.”

Worley explained that the charter school is not a private entity or funded privately. It’s a public school and funded by the state of Texas based on average daily attendance. Worley said the district is striving for about 96 percent attendance rate.

“We receive about 85 percent of what public school receives as far as funding is concerned because the local school makes up that difference through their local tax base,” Worley said. “So we only receive any money from the state of Texas, we don’t receive anything from the local district.”

Panola Charter Schools has three campuses: Panola Charter High School and Panola Early College High School in Carthage and Texas Early College High School in Marshall.

“The charter school campus is a little bit different maybe than the other two campuses,” Worley said. “The other two campuses focus on having an associate’s degree when you graduate from high school. So last year we had I think 12 students who had an associate’s degree when they graduated. They actually graduated from Panola a week or 10 days before they actually graduated from high school because of the graduation ceremonies. So it’s pretty neat.”

Worley said they are like any other public school in that they have students from all walks of life and socioeconomic levels.

“(We) had a young man that had gone to the Panola Early College, and he happened to walk by,” Worley said. “Bryan (Tarjick) introduced me to him, and we were talking about scholarships. I said ‘This young man right here is really probably a good candidate for one of our scholarships,’ and I said ‘What are your plans next year?’ and he said ‘Well, I’m gonna go to work,’ I said, ‘You don’t want to continue, to go college?’ He said, ‘Well I can’t afford it.’ And I said ‘Well if you got a scholarship, would that help you?’ ‘Oh yes, sir, I could go to school.’ Cause he has a part time job.

“And so, he went and finished up his associate’s degree this next year, because of the scholarship that Panola afforded us to award to students,” Worley said. “And it’s heartwarming to know that we can make a difference in those kid’s lives.”

The district is there to help students, Worley said.

“It’s one of those things where, life’s not fair, and we all have different things we have to deal with as we go through our life, and so to give those kids that opportunity to be successful, or as I always say, put a few more tools in their toolbox, so they can be prepared for the next thing that could be given in life,” Worley said. “And that’s what we’re there for and that’s what we’re hoping to accomplish.”