CANTON - Ike Haynes has big plans for the Canton School District and is already garnering community support as the upcoming school year draws near.

Haynes took over as superintendent of CSD on July 1, following the departure of Dwight Luckett. He has big goals and a "Yes We Can" mentality that will certainly be put to the test in a district that has struggled over the years.

"Throughout the application process, all I heard was what Canton 'couldn't do,'" Haynes said. "I became more and more intrigued, because I believe that with the right leadership that Canton could see significant improvement in student achievement."

Fresh from a successful run as superintendent of Jefferson Davis County School District, Haynes has begun to implement a plan for the success of the student body.

"What I'm doing currently is working through my 90-day entry plan," he explained. "I have met with all of the executive staff. I've been out visiting schools and have begun preparations for Aug. 6, which is the first day of school."

During his time as an educator, Haynes has been a classroom teacher, football coach, baseball coach, assistant principal and superintendent.

"I have actually done every job related to a school district except drive a school bus," said Haynes, citing the experience as one of the strengths of his leadership style.

His enthusiasm and vision have Canton Mayor Arnel Bolden already singing praises.

"I'd like to say that I am very impressed with the new superintendent's vision for improving the overall academic performance of our Canton Public School System," Bolden, who has put education in the forefront of his agenda, said. "We have had several meetings, and we have agreed to partner together to make sure that both the city and the Canton Public School System work together to improve the performance of all the students in the district."

Though approximately 3,390 students are enrolled for this coming fall, the school district earned a D grade in 2013 and has not met academic growth in past years. Research on the area led Haynes to conclude, "We're going to have to change. I want every employee in the school district to accept his or responsibility to help the children in the Canton Public School District."

Along the way, he hopes to build solid relationships throughout the Canton and all of Madison County.

"I'm absolutely convinced that Canton can educate its children at high level if we work together," Haynes said. "They should have the opportunity to attend a world-class school system just like everyone else."

And it's not just the mayor who has taken note. Some parents are already beginning to hold Haynes' feet to the fire.

"So far, I like what I see," said Deeda Archie, mother of a Canton student. "I'm excited about the things that he says that he would like to do for the district."

She has found Haynes to be goal-oriented and approachable thus far and admires his continuation of Luckett's program to increase graduation numbers and drop-out retention.

"Another thing I just want to stress is that he is promoting student achievement," she said. "So often we hear where the teachers and administrators are being held accountable, but he also is stressing that the students and parents will be accountable and need to step up to the plate."

On the first day of school, Haynes plans to visit every school in the district and meet with all executive staff before holding a community meeting at Canton High School to brief concerned parents. He makes no promises of perfection, but hopes that the new administration can instill hard work into everyone associated with the school district and produce self-motivated students that leave high school ready for college.