Good news? Mayo has plenty of it

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 25, 1999

Millicent Mayo arrives bearing ideas. From the three-inch binder in her arms to the &uot;oh, by the ways&uot; that pepper her animated conversation, Mayo is in high gear and focused on her new mission – spreading the good news about public education.

The veteran administrator whose work with the Central Alternative School here in Natchez earned her statewide honors as &uot;administrator of the year&uot; is now focusing her energies and ideas on public relations.

&uot;I’m excited about this,&uot; she says with a sparkle in her eyes. &uot;You know, for so many years we haven’t talked about the good things kids are doing …&uot;

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Instead, she says, students often earn public recognition for athletic prowess and, unfortunately, the things they do wrong.

The good news, as Mayo sees it, is the hundreds of tiny – and not so tiny – accomplishments that take place in classrooms and school-sponsored programs each year.

And it’s not just the students’ accomplishments.

The good news, as Mayo sees it, is just as much the teachers whose creativity earns them grants and peer recognition; the parents who volunteer untold hours at schools and in PTA programs; even the adopt-a-school volunteers who, through the Partners in Education program, are sharing their time and talents with children and schools.

And, as she sees it, that’s the news that needs to be shared with the Natchez community.

For years, the Natchez-Adams School District has struggled with its public image.

In a community with three strong non-public school districts competing not for tax dollars but for sweat equity and parent support, the public schools here have struggled to maintain a positive image.

Add to that a reticent administration and the inherent politics that come with running a more than $35 million entity in a politically volatile community and, well, getting the good news out can be a challenge, to say the least.

But the fact the the district’s administration – led by the proactive Dr. Carl Davis – committed one of its most outstanding administrators to this newly created job is evidence of a changing attitude.

And that changing attitude seems to be pervasive, from the teachers in the classrooms to the school board members who oversee the district to bankers and businessmen who view a strong public school district as the cornerstone to community and economic development.

More important, the new job and new attitude add voice and support to the belief that so many people within the district – people such as Mayo – have held for years:

That good things are happening in public education in Natchez – every day – and people need to know about those things.

That’s no easy task, but Mayo is putting together a plan.

From the simplest efforts – a &uot;We Care&uot; program that encourages each staff and faculty member to &uot;adopt&uot; one child to look after, to &uot;care&uot; about whether it be making sure the child has paper and pencil to just saying &uot;good job&uot; every once in a while – to more public efforts as revamping the district’s newsletter and distributing it to community leaders, Mayo is plotting her course.

&uot;I’m still trying to get things in order,&uot; she says with a laugh.

Knowing Mayo’s track record, that won’t take long.

And that certainly is good news.

Stacy Graning is editor of The Democrat. She can be reached a 446-5172 ext. 239 or by e-mail at