School district adds culinary arts, tourism classes

Published 12:02 am Friday, December 12, 2014

NATCHEZ — They asked, now they shall receive.

Students in the Natchez-Adams School District will soon be able to enroll in dual-enrollment courses in culinary arts, hospitality and tourism programs, which is something students told the district they wanted last year through a survey.

The NASD Board of Trustees approved Thursday a request from Fallin Career and Technology Center to provide the classes through a partnership with Copiah-Lincoln Community College’s Natchez campus.

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The classes are intended to prepare students for careers in the management, marketing and operations of restaurants and other food services, lodging, attractions, recreational events and travel-related services, Fallin Principal Daisy West said.

“In order to prepare them for the workforce, we need to provide opportunities for them,” West said. “We would like to expose our students to more programs.”

The classes will be added to the various career-oriented classes offered at Fallin, which include health science, education and training and human services, among others.

“We’re truly redesigning our vocational programs to the needs and wants of the students instead of what’s comfortable for us as teachers and educators to put on the list,” said NASD Superintendent Frederick Hill. “This is our first real change to Fallin, and we’re excited about what’s going on over there.”

Hill said the idea to add the classes came directly from the results of a survey middle and high school students took last year when the district was preparing to launch its magnet school.

The career field that scored the highest among 728 students at the middle school and 664 students at the high school was hospitality and tourism.

Hill said the district eventually made the decision for the magnet school to have a curriculum based on science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

But that didn’t mean the district forgot about what the students said they wanted to see in the course offerings, Hill said.

“We’re taking the results of what the students said they wanted and experimenting with what we can offer,” Hill said. “This is what they said they wanted, so we wanted to put that in place.”

Hill said students would be able to register for the courses starting this fall.

To be eligible, NASD students must meet Co-Lin’s qualifications for dual enrollment, which requires the students have a certain GPA and ACT scores, among other necessary approvals.

The students will take the courses at Co-Lin’s campus and are required to have their own transportation from Natchez High School to Co-Lin, Hill said.

In other news from the meeting:

Twanna Thornton, who is the principal for Morgantown Middle School’s art academy, presented the board with an update to its “at-risk action plan.”

The Mississippi Department of Education requires schools that have had consecutive failing ratings put in place a plan to identify areas of improvement to be addressed.

Because the art academy had the most number of students of the three academies following a restructuring of Morgantown, the academy inherited the former middle school’s F rating and must remain under state-monitored scrutiny until test results improve.

The academy’s plan includes goals to increase student performance in language arts and arts, while also decreasing discipline infractions.

Thornton shared with the board a number of actions being taken at the academy to reach those goals, including the creation of an instructional leadership team and a reward system for students who have not received discipline infractions in two weeks.

Board member Thelma Newsome told Hill she appreciated the presentation of specific plans being taken at the school to improve its rating.

Following the recent state accountability results, Morgantown is the only school in the district with an F rating.

“I appreciate her presentation and telling me what you’re doing differently to improve your school,” Newsome said. “I like the things you’re specifically targeting to move from point A to point B.”