Teachers encouraged to use available tools|[08/02/07]

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Vicksburg Warren School District’s 849 teachers heard an hour and a half of encouragement and laughter Wednesday at the district’s annual convocation.

&#8220For some of you, this is your first convocation – you’re new to the family,” said Superintendent James Price. &#8220Perhaps you’re uneasy about what the future holds. I can assure you, these are your brothers and sisters sitting here in this room.”

The kickoff, held this year at Warren Central High School, is the formal opening of the school year for the more than 1,500 total employees and 9,000-plus students in the countywide district.

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Price encouraged newer teachers to take advantage of the more than 11,000 years of combined teaching experience gathered in the auditorium.

Much of the laughter was due to Elvis Epps, a school administrator and motivational speaker from Orange County, Fla., who also had a serious message. Epps said education is more than books and discipline – it’s growing communities and having empathy for students’ lives inside and outside the classroom.

&#8220There are a whole lot of educated fools out there who are doing nothing for their community,” he said to murmurs of agreement, applause and laughter.

A Mississippi native, Epps admitted that he wasn’t a stellar student. Growing up surrounded by crime and poverty, he says the efforts of a 12th grade teacher encouraged him to care enough to rise above his circumstances and attend college.

&#8220When someone wants to challenge you about your role,” in society said Epps, &#8220tell them that you make the difference.”

Students report to classes on Wednesday at the district’s 14 schools.