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Little Rock charter school system welcomes new CEO

Career educator Cherie Labat has been selected to be the next CEO of Arkansas' eStem Public Charter School system, which serves nearly 3,000 students in Little Rock.

A public charter school system serving nearly 3,000 students in Little Rock has a new leader.

After a nationwide search, eStem Public Charter Schools selected Cherie Labat, a career educator whose last post was with the University of Southern Mississippi, to be chief executive officer of the charter system, officials said in a news release Friday. She succeeds John Bacon, who retired late last year.

"Dr. Labat’s passion about education was clear from the outset, and her dedication to her students is unwavering," Vernard Henley, president of the eStem board of directors, said in announcing the selection.


"We are thrilled to welcome her to the eStem community as we embark on this new chapter of leadership."

Labat most recently served as the cybersecurity coordinator for the Mississippi Cyber Defense Initiative at USM in Hattiesburg. She also served as superintendent of the Columbus Municipal School District from 2018 to 2022 and was an assistant superintendent, principal and assistant principal in the Bay Waveland School District from 2006 to 2016.


She has a doctorate in educational leadership and research from the University of Southern Mississippi, a master’s degree in higher education and student personnel from the University of Mississippi, and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Jackson State University.

"My life’s work is helping children reach their greatest potential," Labat said. "As the daughter of two educators, I realized my calling at a very young age, and I believe that I have a moral obligation to provide opportunities for college, career, and enlistment preparation for all students."

Mark Milhollen has served as eStem’s interim chief executive since Bacon’s retirement in December.

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