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Private schools in Vicksburg already underway

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Element5 Digital on Unsplash

While most students in Vicksburg were enjoying an extra week of summer vacation, students enrolled in two local private schools began as originally scheduled.

Porter’s Chapel Academy and Agape Montessori Christian Academy opened to students Monday, Aug. 10, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Both schools are Christ-centered and the decision to open was “based largely on prayer,” according to Lynn Townsend, director of Agape Montessori.

Porter’s Chapel, under the leadership of Chris Williams, welcomed nearly 200 students with “a handful” choosing the virtual learning option, while Agape serves nearly 80 students in Pre-K through 12th grade in the Vicksburg Warren County area. Approximately 20 students are utilizing distance learning, and all of those students are in grades six through 12.

“The choice wasn’t an easy one for sure,” said Brandy Boyd. Boyd has three students enrolled at Agape, and she chose virtual learning via Google classroom for her two older children.

“I decided based on the fact my oldest has Type 1 diabetes, which is an autoimmune disease. I just feel it’s best for his health and safety to stay at home. My other teenager chose the online classes because she wanted to be there for her brother in case of emergency.”

Porter’s Chapel and Agape have similar safety plans in place for those choosing in-person learning. Both schools are requiring masks in common areas, temperature checks at entrances and classrooms are being sanitized multiple times a day. Sanitizer and sanitizing stations are available throughout both schools, and lunch and break schedules have been modified to ensure as much social distancing as possible. Every elementary student at Agape chose in-person learning, so the school purchased an ActivePure Certified Cleaner that uses space technology to clean air and surfaces throughout the day. Safety measures like this played a large part in Boyd’s decision to have her youngest child attend class in-person.

“My 8-year-old learns best in person, face-to-face,” she said. “He has to stay engaged and doesn’t have the attention span needed for virtual classes. I just knew it was imperative that he physically attend, and I’m very confident in the school’s ability to keep him safe.”

“I think we were all worried about getting the little kids to keep their masks on and keep a safe distance from their friends,” said Jennifer Heldenbrand, an elementary teacher at Agape. “They’ve really made me proud, though. They understand how important it is if we want to keep our loved ones as healthy as possible.”

Thousands of students in the Vicksburg Warren School District and Vicksburg Catholic Schools are preparing to start Monday, Aug. 17, and even though it is impossible to predict what lies ahead, it is certain the 2020-2021 school year will be one for the history books.

Education

Corey Wilson is Warren Central’s Teacher of the Year

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Warren Central's Principal Eric Green, left, presents teacher and coach Corey Wilson Sr. with a basket of goodies. (photo courtesy WCHS)

Warren Central High School teacher and football coach Corey Wilson Sr. has won the WCHS Teacher of the Year award for the 2020-2021 school year.

Wilson has been teaching at Warren Central for 19 years and has helped educate thousands of students over the years. He teaches introduction to architecture construction mechatronics and engineering.

Wilson is also a football coach for the school and has helped a plenty of young athletes gain athletic scholarships. He is well respected by his students, colleagues and the Vicksburg community.

“A well deserved award for a guy that goes beyond the limit. Proud to be mentored and work with him. Great coach,” said fellow teacher and coach Ced Jackson in a text message.

Wilson will help lead the Vikings football team Friday as they travel to face Tupelo High School.

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COVID-19

Vicksburg Warren School Districts reports three new COVID-19 cases

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For the week of Nov. 2 through Nov. 6, the Vicksburg Warren School District reported two new COVID-19 cases and four individuals quarantined due to possible exposure to the virus in the same time period.

Cases were reported at the following schools:

Warren Central High School
Two new positive cases – teachers/staff

Warren Central Intermediate
Four quarantined – teachers/staff

For the prior week, Oct. 26 through Oct. 30, the district reported one new COVID-19 case, a student, at River City Early College High School.

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Education

Local educator ignites passion for science and dance in VWSD students

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April Green lives her life by a quote from William Butler Yeats: “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” And she is lighting students’ fires everywhere from dance floors to classroom laboratories. 

Green, a native of Vicksburg, said she has been a dancer since the age of four, but her interest in science and her desire to teach didn’t manifest itself until her high school years at Vicksburg High School. 

“There were three teachers that truly touched me; Annie Straughter, Alice Jones, and Susan Czaika. They brought out the best in me and encouraged my passion for science. They also had a way of inspiring all of us in their classes and that’s what made me first think about becoming a teacher.” 

It was in high school as a member of the dance team Gator Girls that Green’s love of dance also thrived. 

“We (the Gator Girls) went to a dance camp and a few of us were chosen to dance at a New Orleans Saints game”, Green said. “It was at that game that I knew my future didn’t lie in just science and teaching. Dance would be a big part of it, too.” 

After graduating from VHS, Green enrolled at Alcorn State University and earned a bachelor’s degree in child psychology. She soon followed that with a master’s degree in education from Jackson State University. 

Green began her educational career at Vicksburg Junior High as an 8th grade science teacher. That took care of two of her passions, but Green couldn’t quite shake the feeling that something in her life was missing. 

Green said, “I knew I wanted to open a dance studio, but I was scared to take the risk. I went back and forth with myself for a few years. I questioned whether I’d have the necessary time to invest in it and whether it would be financially wise. But my family finally sat me down and was like, ‘Look. This is what you want to do and we believe in you. We support you, so go try.’” The April Green Dance Company opened in 2015. 

As the AGDC was getting off the ground, Green’s career in education was also on the rise. Green was offered the position of lead teacher at Sherman Avenue Elementary which she held for five years before being named lead teacher at Vicksburg High School for the 2019-2020 school year. 

As rewarding as those positions were, Green missed the classroom. “I just wanted to be in a place where I could do for students what inspirational teachers had done for me. I wanted to make science come alive for kids.” 

The opportunity to do just that presented itself when Green learned that the Career and Technical Education (CTE) school needed a teacher for their Biomedical classes. Green got the position. 

CTE is a program through which Hinds Community College Vicksburg-Warren Campus, through its Career and Technical Center, offers high school career and technical courses to the secondary students within the Vicksburg-Warren School District. 

“The students in the Biomedical program have the chance to take on real world challenges through case studies and real life experiences. They’re working with the same tools used by professionals in hospitals and labs. They’re taking real case studies and working together to develop solutions,” Green said. “It’s incredible to see high school students so on fire for new knowledge and skills. And to know that I’ve had a part in lighting that fire is beyond rewarding.” 

William Butler Yeats would likely agree.

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