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Hinds CC offering grants to students during COVID-19 disruptions

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(photo courtesy Hinds CC)

Hinds Community College is offering help for current and new students whose college education has been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Hinds CARES Grant program will award $500 to 2,000 students on a first-come, first-served basis to help with fall 2020 college expenses. Fall classes begin Aug. 17. Current plans are for on-campus classes as well as online classes.

“Because Hinds CARES, these one-time grants are designed to help college students and families fill the gap in paying for college expenses,” said Hinds President Dr. Stephen Vacik in a statement. “The way forward from this pandemic, for individuals, for the economy, for the general welfare of society, will be through higher education and the opportunities that it will provide. Our college intends to continue to lead in this effort.”

To be eligible applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Have a standard high school diploma or High School Equivalency diploma
  • Be a returning student to Hinds Community College or be a new student to Hinds Community College who has completed the admissions process. To apply, see the college website at https://www.hindscc.edu/admissions
  • Completed a 2020-2021 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and have those results on file in the Hinds Office of Financial Aid
  • Be enrolled in and attending a minimum of six credit hours for fall 2020.

To apply for a CARES Grant, students can go to the college website at https://www.hindscc.edu/cares.

Students are permitted to spend the Hinds CARES grant money in one of three ways:

  • A $500 credit toward the purchase of a laptop or device in a Hinds bookstore
  • Fall 2020 tuition, fees, supplies, room and board
  • Other expenses related to the disruption of a student’s college education because of the coronavirus, including food and housing insecurities, transportation, health care, child care or loss of employment.

For more information, email [email protected] or call 1-800-HINDSCC or 601-857-3767.

The Hinds CARES Grant is made possible by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Section 18004(a)(3), awarded through the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Postsecondary Education, for grants to students for any component of a student’s cost of attendance, as defined under Section 472 of the Higher Education Act.

Education

Micah’s Mission: providing support and resources for home-schooling

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Emily Harber Williams (photo by Matt Williams)

In the last 20 years, the educational option to home-school students has seen significant growth. The reasons that people home-school are as unique as the people making the decisions, but some of the common things that drive families to this option include:

  • Bullying
  • A child’s specific educational needs not being met within their current school
  • A child’s social or psychological needs not being met
  • The difficulty of getting a student’s disability recognized and accommodated
  • A desire to instill a specific worldview or belief system
  • To provide the flexibility for a child to pursue his or her passion
  • Concerns over school safety
  • And now, because of COVID-19, concerns about students’ health.

For parents considering transitioning their child from traditional school to home-school, the process can be quite stressful. Common concerns include which curriculum to use, financial feasibility, lack of socialization opportunities, and uncertainties of students being admitted to and prepared for colleges.

For many of those families in the Vicksburg area, the answers lie with Emily Harber Williams and a place called Micah’s Mission.

In 2016, Williams was a physical education teacher at Bowmar Avenue Elementary School and pursuing a doctorate degree in education from Walden University.

“I was asked to create an innovative model (of a nontraditional school) and make a proposal for my International Educational Law and Policy class assignment,” Williams said, “and then my professor told me my plan could be implemented. So I began (Micah’s Mission) out of my house in 2017.”

Williams said that during that time, she was led to read the Book of Micah from the Bible. That book tells the story of Jesus walking on water and examines the faith one needs to follow Christ with unwavering faith.

“I knew God was telling me to ‘step out of the boat’ and do something to help children succeed,” she said.

Micah‘s Mission School now operates as an independent entity located inside Crawford Street United Methodist Church near downtown Vicksburg. Its mission is to provide home-schoolers in grades K-12 a place to learn and work in a safe, stress-free environment without the rigor and boundaries found in traditional schools. They also offer a resource center for independent online learners.

“Our students are able to learn life skills that will increase their preparedness for the real world after graduation with a faith-based foundation,” Williams said.

“All students are working toward a high school diploma or certificate to be prepared for college or the workforce. We provide a way for students, with or without disabilities, to learn full circle,” she added.

Micah’s Mission has grown to employ three full-time teachers, one full-time volunteer and Williams. They currently serve 27 students. For most students, they utilize Time4Learning.com, a complete home-school curriculum. They also serve students from other private and public schools with their Dyslexia and Dysgraphia Program and offer after school tutoring.

For more information, interested parents can visit www.micahsmissionschool.org or email Emily Williams at [email protected].

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Education

MIBEST program at Hinds CC adds up to success for Vicksburg woman

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Mayra Gomez (photo courtesy Hinds CC/April Garon)

Mayra Gomez has always felt comfortable with the language of numbers.

“I’ve liked numbers my whole life,” Gomez said, agreeing that they have been something of a security blanket for her since coming to the United States from Mexico with her parents when she was already 20. “Numbers are just universal, plus I just have a square head like that!”

Gomez, now 41 and a working mother of three, attended high school in Mexico, but said an education there doesn’t translate well toward obtaining a good job in the U.S., particularly when a language barrier is factored in.

“For my husband and me, it was hard learning the language,” she said, adding the internet played a big role in her learning the basics of communication to help support her family along with her husband, who works in construction. “I learned English just based on reading, software I could learn by myself and experiences we would have, such as going to the doctor. I would just look up words I was going to say.”

Gomez still works a restaurant job by day but will soon be broadening her horizons beyond all expectations. This past spring, she earned a career certificate in Business Office Technology from Hinds Community College after having completed the MIBEST program. The program allows adult students to train for a job skill while earning their High School Equivalency certificate at the same time. Students are prepared to be job-ready in six months to a year, training in high-demand areas and earning national certifications.

“I found the program while online, and I called to find out more about how it helps people get a high school diploma,” she said.

This fall, Gomez is enrolled in classes at the Vicksburg-Warren Campus that will land her a technical certificate, then a full Associate of Applied Science degree. After Hinds, she wants to pursue a career in accounting, a goal she said gained steam while working a seasonal job as a tax preparer with a Vicksburg accounting firm. She also counts membership in the campus chapter of Phi Theta Kappa honor society as another plus in her social development.

“I still have to take English Composition next semester, but I’m excited,” she said. “I still need to learn more about the language.

All participants in MIBEST have access to support staff, or navigators, whose job it is to help students focus on their studies by advising them on a wide range of life issues – which often include everything from child care to transportation to ways to find rental assistance for those in such a situation.

“My navigators and instructors are my angels here,” she said. “Whenever I feel lost, they guide me and make me feel welcome.

“I consider them more than just instructors – they’re my friends. I was afraid to come back to school mainly due to language. I was wondering what would happen if I said something wrong or wrote something wrong. But they told me, ‘No, don’t be afraid. Just ask and we’ll see what we do to fix it.’”

Instructors and navigators in the program even go so far as to say Gomez is the best MIBEST student ever.

“Mayra entered into the Adult Basic Education program with definite goals set for herself,” said Vanessa Shiers, navigator in the program at the Vicksburg-Warren Campus. “Upon entering the program, she began working hard and showing a kind of determination that was a delight to see in a student.”

Ramona Latham, her instructor in Business Office Technology, found it refreshing Mayra was willing to help fellow students as she herself needed help with class assignments.

“Mayra is the type of student every instructor loves to have in their class,” Latham said.

“When she required assistance, she reached out so that she could get a better understanding of the subject matter. When her classmates required assistance, she was always willing to help. In her three semesters with me, she proved to be dedicated, diligent and filled with compassion.”

As inspiring as she might be for her instructors, her biggest driving force is her children.

“I want my kids to feel proud of me,” she said. “I want to show them it’s not about age to be successful. You can go out and get something that you really like and dream about it. One of my dreams for me is to finish school, get a good job and show they can do it if they decide to do it.

“Recently, I was working on my school work at home and my kids saw my grades. They were like, ‘Mama, you got a 98 or a 100.’ So, I can say if I can get good grades, you can do it, too.”

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Education

American Lung Association invites Mississippi to join the Vape-Free School Initiative

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(Photo by Sarah Johnson, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=82597570)

Tuesday, the American Lung Association announced the new Vape-Free School Initiative, a comprehensive program to help school administrators and educators address the surge of youth vaping across Mississippi.

“In Mississippi, 21.4% of high school students used e-cigarettes in 2019. Vaping harms developing lungs and overall health and may place people at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. We must do more to protect our youth from a lifetime of addiction to deadly tobacco products,” said Rochelle Thompson, senior manager of health promotions for the Lung Association. “Through our Vape-Free Schools Initiative, the Lung Association is helping schools navigate this public health emergency with tools to protect and support both schools and students.”

The Mississippi Vape-Free Schools Initiative includes a comprehensive toolkit of resources, trainings and guidance for schools, including:

  1. INDEPTH: The Intervention for Nicotine Dependence: Education, Prevention, Tobacco and Health is a four-session program facilitated in either a one-on-one or group setting for students who violate school tobacco policies. Instead of focusing on punitive measures, INDEPTH teaches students about nicotine dependence, establishing healthy alternatives and how to kick the unhealthy addiction.
  2. Not On Tobacco (N-O-T): N-O-T is a tobacco cessation program designed with teenagers in mind. It takes a holistic approach with each session using different interactive learning strategies based on Social Cognitive Theory of behavior change. This encourages a voluntary change for youth ages 14 to 19.
  3. Vape-Free School Policy Assessment: Through this brief school policy assessment, educators can see how their school can improve their policies to provide students, employees and visitors with clear guidance.

The INDEPTH and NOT facilitator trainings are done virtually, and the programs for students can be held either in-person or virtually through an online meeting platform.

School administrators and educators interested in getting involved in the Vape-Free Schools Initiative can contact Rochelle Thompson at [email protected].

For more information about the Lung Association’s work to end youth vaping, visit TalkAboutVaping.org.

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