Lee school officials await 'Today' show decision

LEESBURG, Ga. -- It may become a logistical question as to whether popular "Today" show news anchor Ann Curry will visit Lee County Middle School as part of the NBC daytime staple's upcoming series on education and quality schools in America.

Lee County Middle Principal Susan Manry said she will find out sometime today from "Today" producer Kelly Paice if Curry will make the trip to Southwest Georgia.

National Middle School Association Executive Director Drew Allbritten suggested Lee County Middle to NBC since the school is a Georgia Lighthouse School to Watch. The state program is part of the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform. Lee County was recently redesignated to the Lighthouse School program for the next three years.

"(Today) we'll know if they're coming to Lee County Middle or if they're going to have to stay closer to the New York area," Manry said Tuesday.

Lee County was to be the rural representative in the national report, which would also feature urban and suburban schools at the elementary, middle school and high school level, Manry said. Lee County Middle has the largest enrollment in its seven-school district with 1,530 students.

"It was pretty big and Ann Curry was the host that was supposed to come and see us," Manry said. "We're still hoping. It would be a nice thing for the community and for all our teachers as it would allow them to shine. It's (wonderful) that they at least know who we are. We don't get a phone call like that everyday. We'd never been on camera like this."

Whatever decision NBC makes, Lee County Superintendent Lawrence Walters said "just to be considered" for such a report would be a "compliment."

Curry has been the "Today" news anchor since March 1997 and was named co-anchor of "Dateline NBC" in May 2005. She also regularly substitutes for anchor Brian Williams on "NBC Nightly News."

According to the Today.MSNBC.MSN website, Curry made a name for herself with her "global humanitarian reporting" and frequent travels to remote areas for "under-reported stories."

"Today" producer Paice declined to comment for this story.