UM Expands High School Staff And Offerings


OXFORD, Miss. – More than 250 high school students from around the world are finding the right fit in their educational journey through the University of Mississippi High School, which continues to meet the growing need for options that help students complete individual high school courses as well as complete degrees online.

After graduating 14 full-time students with their high school diplomas this spring, administrators are working to keep moving forward as the program adds more full-time staff and increases offerings this summer.

“There are a lot of moving parts, but we want to continue to offer the highest-caliber program possible,” said Ellen Shelton, UM executive director of pre-college programs.



In May, UMHS faculty member Thomas Herrington, of Oxford, took on a new role as the full-time UMHS principal and coordinator. Besides full-time teaching duty with Oxford School District for the past 10 years, Herrington has served as an instructor with UMHS for English III, German I, Ancient Middle Eastern History and ACT/SAT Preparation courses for the past six years.

“Thomas brings a strong knowledge of online education in the K-12 setting to our program,” Shelton said.

“He is a well-rounded, curriculum-based instructor who knows how to help struggling students and special populations. I am beyond thrilled to have him join our team full time.”

Herrington, originally from the south Mississippi town of Columbia, has worked as a clerk at the front desk of an emergency room and a hall director in a men’s dorm, and taught English in China.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in history with minors in German and Chinese from UM in 2003. Upon graduation, he worked at Mississippi College and St. Dominick Hospital before moving back to Oxford for a year and then heading off to Harbin, China, in spring 2002 to teach English at Heilongjiang University.

After returning home from a year overseas, he earned a master’s degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages at the University of Southern Mississippi. He then returned to Oxford to teach in the UM Intensive English Program in 2005.

In fall 2006, he became an English Language Learner teacher with Oxford School District. Throughout the past six years, he has also served as an online instructor for the UM High School.

“What we create is what our students are going to get out of their high school education,” Herrington said. “We want to make it appealing and informative. It’s fulfilling to be a part of a positive trajectory for these students.”

Herrington completed his educational specialist degree in curriculum and instruction in 2014 and holds an administrator license.

“I think the most challenging part of my new position will be handling the growth while maintaining the high quality of the program, but I’m up to the challenge,” Herrington said.

Krystal Rae Baker, a native of Los Angeles, became the new enrollment and records assistant for UMHS last month. She has been working as a graduate assistant with the program since 2013, which helped with the transition.

“I really enjoy working with all of our students, parents and instructors,” Baker said. “It’s rewarding to be a part of helping our students succeed in their goals.”

Baker helps keep students on track with their coursework and follows up with parents and officials on their progress. She said she enjoys seeing the different journeys that students in the program are on.

“We have students from all over the world who have a desire for completing their high school degree,” Baker said. “We even have a Nickelodeon television actress. Completing your education is an attainable and admirable goal, no matter what is going on in your life.”

New courses are regularly in development to add to the wide range of options for students looking to expand their knowledge base. This fall, Herrington is preparing a new credit course on world religions.

The UMHS program enrolls students anytime throughout the year and offers more than 50 online courses for high school credit. Find out more at



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