Synergy — stronger options of better together
Published 10:46 am Sunday, July 24, 2022
At the Natchez-Adams County Educational DevelopmentFoundation, we were so encouraged to read Mayor Gibson’s Senior Address to the combined graduating Class of 2022! What amazing progress exemplified in our city’s youth! God is answering our prayers to bring His people together – truly a “Natchez United.” Such unity may be the
foundation for making Natchez, Adams County, and SouthwestMississippi a model for the state and nation of what can be – strong community, strong economy, and strong education.
Now, it is time for us, as adults in the room, to step up to the plateand join forces to provide every opportunity possible for our future generations. The Natchez-Adams County Educational Development Foundation is in the process of exploring the possibility of providing more options for education to the children and families of the area. Currently, the two choices of traditional public or private schools are limiting theoptions. Perhaps it is time for some options that fall between the two current options! Therefore, some in our community have suggested some options. worthy of strong consideration:
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The traditional liberal arts programming currently offered through thepublic and private schools certainly meets the needs of many students; however, some children need a different type of organizational structure to serve their needs. The schools that we are proposing could meet the diverse needs of the students who slip through the cracks in a traditional model.
The proposed Natchez-Adams Early Childhood & Intermediate Center (NAECIC) design includes strong research-based strategies supported by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (naeyc.org). This professional accreditation body supports implementing Developmentally Appropriate Practices when teaching children from birth through second grade. It involves creating an exciting and motivating environment that encourages exploration, investigation,and experimentation to stimulate learning and improve learning andretention of information and skills. This is accomplished by what is called“intentional play” activities. Teachers in grades K-2 would be certified in early childhood and will “loop” with their children, teaching them for those three years; classes would serve students with 1 teacher to 16 students. Teachers in Grades 3-5 would be certified in elementary and specialized in either math and sciences or English/language arts and social studies; these teachers would “loop” as well with 1 teacher to 24 students. The school would provide a strong infusion of the arts and mixed media to enhance the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math theme of the school.
Both the SouthWest Mississippi Academy of Health Sciences (SWMS AoHS) and the SouthWest Mississippi Conservatory for Performing & Media Arts (SWMS CfP&MA) would provide strong thematic-based programming aligned to two of the largest and fastest growing career clusters in the region. Research suggests that when required classes – math, science, English, and social studies – are taughtwith assignments/activities aligned to the school theme, students who are passionate about the theme comprehend, apply, and retain the information at much higher rates.
Small schools committed to making their theme the foundation for instruction across the curriculum have proven to significantly improve thelearning for students who might not be as successful in a traditional liberalarts approach. The themes of these proposed schools also align with the top choices of students participating in our Career Exploration Event afew years ago. Both schools would be affiliated with the NationalAcademy Foundation (NAF) which has a track record of high success over three decades for producing 96% graduation rates across all demographics.
Everything points to the fact that providing options for the educational success of all students in a community leads to higher economy and lower crime. Probably, there will always be a need for traditional public education and private parochial education; in thetwenty-first century, it is time to provide options for those who are served better by an innovative model. Please let us know if you support suchoptions for the children of our community. Please visit our Natchez-Adams Educational Development Foundation FB page, sign thepetitions supporting these options, share the link with your friends,and/or email a Letter of Support to email@example.com! Itis time for us to follow the lead of the Class of 2022, set aside our differences, and live better together!
By Dr. Marvin H. Jeter, III, Education Consultant-NACEDFoundation