Schools handed $185,000

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 24, 2001

As Gov. Ronnie Musgrove stresses the need for high-tech jobs, officials with the Natchez-Adams School District hope a new grant will help students gain those necessary skills.

School district officials learned this week they are to receive $185,166.08 through the Technology Literacy Challenge Fund Grant. The program has been available for five years and this is the second year the school district has received funding.

&uot;The training we’re going to be able to provide our students is going to be invaluable,&uot; said Natchez High Principal Brenda Williams about the grant.

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The Mississippi Department of Education approved the grants last Friday to promote student achievement through technology and literacy.

The Natchez-Adams School District plans to use some of the money to buy equipment for a networking class.

Officials say this class will complement the school district’s new ExplorNet pilot program. ExplorNet is a nonprofit organization which works with the Mississippi Department of Education to teach students to upgrade, tear apart and troubleshoot computers.

Davis praised Grafton, Williams and others like them for writing a grant that adds to what the school district already offered.

&uot;They’re visionaries. They see how everything fits,&uot; Davis said.

This grant is going to broaden the scope of the education the high school provides, he said.

The school district received $150,000 through the program last year and used it to buy computers and training for elementary teachers at McLaurin Elementary, Holy Family Catholic School, Cathedral School and Trinity Day School, Grafton said.

This year the money had to be allocated on the secondary level, Grafton said.

The school district will also use the money to buy other items such as new computers, an additional interactive smartboard for the school district and Classworks Gold – a software program tailored to the district’s ninth to 12-grade curriculum and the subject area testing required by the state.

Davis said Classworks Gold is just one of many pieces in a puzzle used to educate students.

&uot;The key to it is making sure everybody understand where every piece of the puzzle fits,&uot; he said.

The software, which has already been purchased for the younger grades, can test students on their specific weakness and strengths, keep track of scores and generate drills to meet student needs based on the data.

&uot;The students can go in on their own and work on either remediation or enrichment,&uot; Williams said.

Since most classes include about 25 students, for the teacher &uot;it’s really hard to make sure you have met the needs of every (student) in there,&uot; Williams said.

The creators of Classworks are also talking with the state about using the software for a &uot;credit recovery program&uot; to help students who are behind in credits catch back up on their own, Williams said.