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Mississippi schools show a trend of continuous improvement

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Photo from the Vicksburg Warren School District website

The Mississippi Department of Education announced that the state’s public and public charter schools are advancing toward an overall goal of achieving C or higher ratings for all schools and districts in the state.

For the 2018-19 school year, nearly three quarters of the state’s schools and 70 percent of its districts will be rated C or higher when the State Board of Education approves accountability scores later this week.

“The grades show a three-year trend of continuous school and district improvement,” MDE said in a statement released today, Sept. 17.

The board set its goal In 2016, and since that time, the percentage of schools meeting the goal has risen from 62.4 percent in 2016 to 73.5 percent in 2019. The number of schools and districts earning an A has more than doubled, with A-rated schools jumping from 88 to 196, and A-rated districts increasing from 14 to 31.

The percentage of districts meeting the SBE goal has increased from 62.2 percent to 69.7 percent since 2016.

Among the 140 districts and five charter schools, 46 increased their letter grade from 2017-18 to 2018-19. Among the state’s 877 schools, 258 increased their letter grade from last year.

“Mississippi schools and districts are achieving at higher levels each year, and their grades demonstrate how well they are serving the children in their classrooms,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education, in the release. “I am extremely proud of our students and their families and every teacher, staff member, and leader who work hard every day in our schools and districts across the state. Together, families, communities and educators are preparing students to be successful in college, the workforce and life.”

The percentage of Mississippi schools and districts rated D or F dropped significantly since 2016, from 37.6 percent to 26.2 percent for schools, and 37.8 percent to 29.0 percent for districts.

The unofficial ratings show that the Vicksburg Warren School District has retained its D rating from the 2017-2018 academic year. Schools in the district are rated as follows:

SchoolGrade
Bovina Elementary SchoolA
Warrenton Elementary SchoolB
Redwood Elementary SchoolB
Bowmar Avenue SchoolB
Beechwood Elementary SchoolC
South Park Elementary SchoolC
Sherman Ave ElementaryC
Warren Central High SchoolD
Vicksburg High SchoolD
Vicksburg IntermediateD
Warren Central IntermediateD
Dana Road ElementaryD
Warren Central Junior High SchoolD
Vicksburg Junior High SchoolF

Mississippi’s A-F accountability system evaluates how well schools and districts are performing each year. Accountability grades are based, in part, on how well students perform and progress from year to year on the Mississippi Academic Assessment Program tests for English language arts and Mathematics. These tests are aligned to the Mississippi College and Career Ready Standards and are administered annually to students in grades 3 through 8 and in high school. Overall, students showed statistically significant gains in both ELA and Mathematics from 2017-18 to 2018-19.

“Student achievement on MAAP reached an all-time high in 2018-19, because teachers are challenging students to achieve at a higher level,” Wright said. “I am a firm believer that students can and will achieve more when they are challenged and supported by great teachers who help them meet higher expectations.”

The statewide district and school grade comparisons from 2017-18 to 2018-19 are as follows:

*Two new charter schools that opened in 2018-19 do not yet have enough data to earn a grade.

Among the 31 A-rated districts, nine districts earned an A for the first time in 2018-19:

The accountability system places an emphasis on the progress students make in ELA and Mathematics from year to year, particularly the lowest performing 25% of students, and factors in how well students perform on science tests in grades 5 and 8, and the progress that English Learners (EL) make toward achieving proficiency in the English language. Accountability grades for high schools and districts include the four-year graduation rate, student performance on Biology, U.S. History and ACT tests, and student participation and performance in advanced coursework such as Advanced Placement and dual credit/dual enrollment courses.

 

Education

Educators honored by the Vicksburg-Warren Chamber of Commerce

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Left to right: Mathew Austin Crabtree, Malissa Flowers, Theresa Bell and Marion Margaret Hern. (photo by Larry Walker)

No matter what your current profession may be, many can thank a teacher or an educator for getting you there in some way, shape, form or fashion. Today, the Vicksburg-Warren Chamber of Commerce honored educators during their 31st Annual Educators of the Year Awards Luncheon.

“This is a very special event because we get to celebrate one of the main components of what makes a community happen, and that’s our teachers,” said Pablo Diaz, Vicksburg-Warren Chamber director. 

Twenty-one amazing candidates out of both the private and public school sector were selected by their peers to represent their school at the luncheon. The candidates were split up between elementary educators (Pre-K through sixth grade) and secondary educators (seventh through 12th grade).

A runner up and a winner was announced for both divisions. Each runner up received a $500 prize provided by Mutual Credit Union, and winners received a $1,000 prize provided by Ameristar Casino. Chick-fil-A extended a caring gesture to all 21 candidates by offering them one free meal per week during the summer.

“Our chamber is committed to education,” Diaz said. “We want to be there as a business community, supporting education to make it the best that it can be for kids and our future.”

Buddy Dees, chamber education chairman, mentioned that during the months of October and November, each school is asked to hold an election at their school to nominate a candidate. Once nominated, candidates go through an extensive application process and a 10-minute interview with six retired educators. 

Diaz shared a special moment during the meeting.

“Teachers you have a huge job on your hands,” Diaz said. “It’s an important job that you have. You are crafting and molding the future leaders of our community. You are crafting and molding the workforce of the future.”

The $500 elementary runner up was Marion Margaret Hern from Bovina Elementary.

Winning the grand prize of $1,000 elementary winner was Malissa Flowers from Beechwood Elementary. Flowers is a special education teacher for 3 and 4-year olds.

“On my way back to Beechwood, I pulled off to my bank and cashed the check,” Flowers said.

Arriving back to Beechwood, Flowers said she gave money to both of her assistants.

“It’s a group effort,” Flowers said. “I cannot do what I do without support.”

The $500 secondary runner up was Thresa Bell from Warren Central High School. 

Winning the grand prize of $1,000 for secondary educators was Austin Crabtree.

The youngest nominee, Crabtree could not hold back excitement as he walked toward the podium pointing towards heaven and mouthing, ” Thank you, Lord.”

Crabtree graduated from Porters Chapel Academy in 2014.  He completed college and is now employed instilling the same core values at the school where they were instilled in him just a few short years ago.

The 2020 elementary nominees are as follows: Malissa Flowers, Beechwood Elementary; Marion Margaret Hern, Bovina Elementary; Christine Jones, Bowmar Elementary; Valerie Benard, Dana Road Elementary; Elizabeth Westerfield, Porters Chapel Academy; Amber Jones, Redwood Elementary; Cassandra Brown, Sherman Avenue; Cassandra Ringo, South Park; Martha Amborn,  St. Francis Xavier; Monica Williams, Vicksburg Intermediate School; Woodrow Price, III, Warren Central Intermediate School; and Jasmine Island, Warrenton Elementary.

The 2020 secondary nominees are as follows: Brittany Prowell, Academy of Innovation; Austin Crabtree, Porters Chapel Academy; Kayla Sorrels, River City Early College; Joan Thornton, St. Aloysius High School; Cynthia Price, Vicksburg Junior High School; Jessica Griffin, Warren Central Junior High School; Grangerette Hayes-Ivory, Vicksburg High School; Theresa Bell, Warren Central High School; and Eloise Ford, Vicksburg Warren School District Career and Technical Center. 

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MPB launches Parents Are Teachers Too initiative in Warren County

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Parents Are Teachers Too launches in Warren County

Parents have a tremendous influence on the academic success of their children. Mississippi Public Broadcasting is launching a new education initiative providing Warren County parents with tools and strategies to help families learn together at home.

The Parents Are Teachers Too initiative will launch in Warren County and 19 other Mississippi counties at the end of February. In each community, current teachers, retired teachers, librarians, college instructors and other educators will serve as MPB PATT facilitators for the program. They will lead participating parents in six one-hour sessions.

The sessions include open discussions on various topics, fun hands-on activities, tips and strategies to use in the home to extend what their child is learning in school, ways to make reading fun and suggestions for family activities. PATT provides parents with tools and resources to create an atmosphere of families learning together. The goal is to encourage and empower parents to be more engaged and work confidently with their children.

MPB is piloting this initiative in Claiborne, Coahoma, Copiah, DeSoto, Hancock, Hinds, Holmes, Humphreys, Jones, Lafayette, Lee, Madison, Oktibbeha, Pike, Sunflower, Warren, Washington, Winston and Yazoo counties.

There is no charge for families to participate, but space is limited. Parents and guardians can contact the facilitator in the county nearest them to get detailed information on the time, date and location of the local program. Contact information for PATT facilitators in each county can be found on the MPB Education Facebook page.

“As a result of MPB’s long-time involvement in early childhood programs and family engagement activities, PATT was developed to help close the gaps between parent-child and parent-teacher relationships,” said MPB’s Early Childhood Director Shelia Brown Robinson in a statement.

“MPB educators have watched how many of the parent-child relationships advance and witnessed children’s grades improve because of the parents’ participation in the school and home. We listened to the needs and concerns of the parents participating at our events. Also, we heard teachers and other school administrators declare that parents need to be more involved,” Robinson said.

PATT is sponsored in part by these generous sponsors: Donna and Jim Barksdale, Sheryl and Jay Davidson, Martha and Marty Hederman, and Origin Bank.

MPB’s Early Childhood Division is dedicated to providing best-practice resources to parents, teachers and community advocates for children from birth to 12-years-old. By using the trusted PBS KIDS platform, the MPB broadcast network and early literacy initiatives, MPB educators provide quality services across Mississippi.

MPB’s Early Childhood team provides books to build home libraries and offer families extended activities. Parents are the child’s most important first teacher and teachers are the parent’s best partner. Creating and nurturing these relationships ensure all children receive quality education and positive school experiences. The ultimate goal is to support families by building programs that are encouraging and engaging for the entire family.

For more information regarding MPB, visit mpbonline.org.

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Business

Love’s donates $2,000 to Bovina Elementary

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Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr., left, and Vicksburg-Warren Partnership President Pablo Diaz, right, look on as Love’s Manager Quentin Ryland cuts the ribbon with area school children to the new Love’s in Flowers.

Love’s Travel Stops and Country Stores donated $2,000 to Bovina Elementary School during the grand opening of its new location in Flowers, Miss., today.

The Flowers store, located off Interstate 20, adds 72 jobs and 94 truck parking spaces to Warren County. It is one of three stores the company officially opened within the past week. The other two stores are in Greenville, Va., and Watonga, Okla.

“These new locations allow us to serve professional and four-wheel drivers and get them back on the road quickly,” said Tom Love, founder and executive chairman of Love’s, in a statement. “We’re excited to continue adding convenient locations to communities across the country.”

With more than 9,000 square feet, the new Love’s in Flowers includes an Arby’s, showers and laundry facilities, and even a dog park providing interstate travelers a safe and convenient stop, and locals a new fast-food option.

In addition to the donation to Bovina Elementary, Love’s is also donating $2,000 to Riverheads High School in Greenville and $2,000 to Building A Better You in Watonga.

See our tour of the new store on our Facebook page.

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