Good Ideas 
 
Good things are happening in Mississippi schools!  This space will provide a place for educators and parents to share good ideas about ways to prevent high school dropouts, increase parental involvement in schools, and make learning fun by featuring innovative programs and teaching strategies being implemented in schools throughout our state.  Click on the links below to learn more.  Please email us about the "Good Ideas" being put into action in your schools!
 
 

Dropout Prevention

 
DESTINATION GRADUATION
The Pascagoula School District is being proactive about reducing its dropout rate.  The district identifies for children as young as preschool-age the targeted graduation date for each class and holds celebrations, rallies and other events encouraging students to graduate on time.
To learn more about the Pascagoula effort, contact Debbie Anglin at 228-938-6503.

Get on the Bus!
The Mississippi Department of Education has partnered with State Farm and the Public Education forum of Mississippi in a statewide effort to empower school districts, business leaders, students, and citizens to join together to lower the dropout rate in Mississippi and keep our children on the path of success.
 
 
Operation Unlock
The dropout rate in the Canton Public School District has decreased signifigantly over the past two years - more than 30%!  Besides focusing on raising student achievement and expectations, the district has worked with parents, community members, and faith-based organizations through a dropout prevention effort called Operation Unlock.  

 Community Partnerships

Toyota Endowment
 Students in three counties will benefit from The Center for Professional Futures, a $35 million facitlity to be built near the Toyota plant in Wellspring. The center, which could open as soon as the fall of 2013, will be used by students in eight school districts in Pontotoc, Union and Lee Counties.
Read More


Family Interactive Center Opens in Pascagoula 

The Pascagoula School District recently opened the doors to the center for students, their parents, and the community. Local businesses, industries, organizations, and friends of education played an important role in providing Super Saturdays for students of all ages and their families.

Playground for Children with Special Needs
DeSoto County School District teachers, parents, and businesses donated their time, supplies and energy to build a playground for children with special needs. Lowe's Heroes volunteered their weekend off to help build the playground. Local restaurants provided lunch for the workers. Thanks to efforts of many volunteers, students have a secure, safe area for play and exercise.
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Backpack Buddies
The Pascagoula Public School District is feeding children and their families on weekends by providing food boxes with enough food for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks from Friday night to Sunday night.
 
Read to Me
The Simpson County School District is partnering with local libraries and the local community foundation to better prepare their students for kindergarten.  They are distributing books for children and educational materials for parents and holding "story time" at local libraries to promote early literacy in the community.
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MS Center for Education Innovation Announces Early Educators Program

A generous grant from AT&T has helped the Mississippi Center for Education Innovation to launch the Early Educators program.  Through this innovative program, older students will use iPods and podcasts to provide younger students mentoring and help with their schoolwork.  The program will hopefully inspire young mentors to enter the teaching profession.

Parental Involvement
 
Mississippi Leadership Program
Parents, grandparents, former teachers, and community leaders spent a weekend hunkered down at the Hancock Leadership Center learning how to help improve their schools. They were participating in the first Northeast Mississippi Parent Leadership Instititute, conducted by Jackson-based Parents for Public Schools
Read more  
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Group Educates Parents about Effective School Boards
Parents for Public Schools has developed resources to help parents understand the important role that school boards play in ensuring excellent schools.  Among the resources available are "Attributes of an Effective School Board Member," a "Rubric for an Effective School Board Meeting," and information about getting appointed or elected to a school board.
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PTA Holds Tailgating Back-to-School Event
Jackson Public School District's Blackburn Middle School held a unique alternative to their annual Back-to-School PTA Meeting involving students, parents, staff, and many others from the local community.
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District Employees Visit Students at Home
Tupelo Public School District principals, teachers and other staff visited students at home in order to build relationships with parents and create a home/school connection before the 2008-2009 school year began.
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 Creative Teaching Strategies
 
Tupelo Students and Teachers get Laptop Computers
The Tupelo School District has announced an initiative to provide laptops for its teachers and all students in grades six through 12. It is a partnership between the district and Apple®. Seniors should get their laptops before the end of the semester.
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Natchez Reading Program sets Good Foundation
Teachers at McLaurin Elementary in the Natchez-Adams School District are focused on setting a foundation for learning using Reading First. Third-grade students in the school participate in a two-hour block of intensive reading and English activities outlined by a grant-funded reading program. 
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Newspapers in Education
Quitman County School District librarian Jean Briggs uses the Newspapers in Education program to teach "her" kids reading and language arts curriculum, as well as critical thinking and writing techniques.
 
Raising Student Achievement
Michelle Wells, a teacher in the Jackson Public School District, was recently honored as Mississippi's 2008 No Child Left Behind American Star of Teaching for her dynamic teaching style and commitment to her special education students.
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Class Mentor Miles Away
Vicki Trotter, a third-grade teacher in the Rankin County School District, has partnered with a retired college professor in Pennsylvania to offer unique learning opportunities for her students in Brandon. 
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 Technology
 
Teaching with Technology
Madison County School District's Madison Middle School is using technology to excite students about learning, as well as extend opportunities for research.
 
iPods for Instruction and Intervention
The Corinth School District is using iPods to help students understand concepts and ideas.  They have partnered with the MS Center for Education Innovation to expand this program.
 
Technology and Mathematics
Rankin County School District teacher, Jennifer Wilson, is using innovative teaching strategies and technology to help her high school students understand advance math concepts. Students are building structures from neon-colored tubes requiring engineering skills.
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 Teacher Resources
 
Funding Opportunities for Teachers
Teachers from New York City founded www.DonorsChoose.org in order to allow citizens, organizations, and businesses across the country to help fund specific projects in the classroom.  The Barksdale Reading Institute recently donated $100,000 to Mississippi teachers through DonorsChoose.
Read More about Barksdale Reading Institute's Donation
Read More about how DonorsChoose is being used in Mississippi
Click here to see how you can donate to Mississippi classrooms.
Early Learning Resources

Words on Wheels
First Regional Library System, a five-county library system serving DeSoto, Lafayette, Panola, Tate, and Tunica counties, is promoting early literacy with their Words on Wheels Book Wagon.  The book wagon is a mobile library that visits children in the area to provide access to books.

Communication
 
Teacher Heroes
Wayne Rodolfich, superintendent of the Pascagoula School District, encourages his staff by sending out a weekly newsletter.  In the newsletters, he includes the district's mission statement, a motivating quote for the week and features a teacher or other district employee that inspires others around him/her.  Click here to view a newsletter from the first nine weeks.
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School Newsletter
One way you can effectively communicate with parents in your school is through a newsletter.  Click on the following links to see examples of a school newsletter.
Example 1            Example 2
School Improvement
  
New School Calendar proving a "Success"
Students and administrators reported a successful start-up for the Columbus Municipal School District's "Success Academy" and enrichment programs for the new 11-month calendar at Stokes-Beard Technology and Communications Magnet School and the Sale International Magnet School. 
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Learning Walks

In order to move an underperforming school from a level 2, principal Mitchell Shears of the Jackson Public School District, began learning walks at Clausell Elementary.  Each week, he and teachers, parents, and other staff visited classrooms checking for evidence of quality teaching and learning.  Mr. Shears continued these learning walks until he was confident that his "children" were getting a first-rate education.  Now Clausell is a Level 4 - Exemplary - school. Click here to view the checklist used on the learning walks.
In the News
 
Below are news releases and newspaper articles that highlight exemplary teaching and leadership in our public schools.
Twelve Districts Recognized by Mississippi School Boards Association

 Healthy Living

Mississippi in Motion
Mississippi in Motion is helping both staff and students improve their health and performance. This fall wellness program for employees in some Mississippi schools is sponsored by an impressive partnership of statewide agencies and organizations. Positive role modeling for children is just one of many benefits from health promotions programs like Mississippi in Motion.  
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West Jones Elementary School Named State Contest Winner 
The Student Health Council at West Jones Elementary, formed under the leadership of physical education instructor Marie Coleman, worked with first graders to learn about nutrition and physical fitness. Due to their efforts to teach students to make healthy choices, the Jones County School District’s elementary school was recognized as the winner of the 2009 Wellness in My School Contest, a state-wide contest sponsored by the Office of Healthy Schools at the Mississippi Department of Education. 
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Luther Branson Elementary Students Compete in WellsFest Fun Run 
Susan Moen, a physical education teacher (and former marathoner) at Luther Branson Elementary School in the Madison County School District, uses her passion for exercise and fitness to inspire and encourage students to make healthy decisions.  Students from her PE classes have participated in several one mile fun run events, including the WellsFest Fun Run. Her students are learning that living a healthy lifestyle can be fun. 
Read more
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 Teachers Lead By Healthy Examples
Teachers in the Clinton Public School District are exercising together and holding a "biggest loser" contest to promote positive lifestyle changes and healthy eating habits.
 

 
 
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