VWSD hosts state secretary and senator
Published 8:50 pm Saturday, September 24, 2016
Mississippi Secretary Delbert Hosemann and State Sen. Chad McMahan, R-Guntown, came to Vicksburg Thursday to get an education.
The two officials toured Vicksburg Warren School District schools, stopping at several to visit with students, teachers and administrators and came away impressed.
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“I was very excited to see what I saw today; the enthusiasm of the students, the enthusiasm from the educators and the way administration supported the educators on the ground, in the front line,” said McMahan, whose senate district includes portions of Lee and Itawamba counties.
“What we are doing is looking at additional ways to have the public school system be as competitive or more competitive with anywhere else,” Hosemann said. “We have some positive things happening in Vicksburg.”
He said he and McMahan share an interest in education from pre-kindergarten through vocational-technical education, adding they saw some of the school district’s vo-tech programs. The school district is one of three districts of innovation in the state, and McMahan and Hoseman wanted to get a good look at how it operates.
“We wanted to come and see the whole thing,” Hosemann said. He said the tour included Vicksburg High School, Bowmar and Sherman Avenue elementary schools, the Academy of Innovation and River City Early College High School, the school district’s newest high school that allows students to earn a two-year degree while attending high school.”
They also learned about the Leader In Me program based on the book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” which is sponsored by the Vicksburg-Warren Chamber of Commerce and local businesses.
“I was very impressed with the children who would come up and speak with us and shake hands,” Hoseman said. “Used to be, a lot of students would be very timid, but they obviously had been schooled in those seven principles.”
He said students at the district’s Academy of Innovation led them on a tour of the school and they had access in the school.
“I took advantage of that to walk into classrooms,” Hosemann said, adding he talked with teachers about the programs in the district.
“We will use all that and go back and look at how the school’s doing,” he said.
He said the Legislature may be facing a budget deficit when it returns to the capitol for the 2017 session, “and they will have to make critical decisions about education. The ones (decisions) you want to make encourage schools that are innovative and want to do things and (are) geared to the students becoming productive.”
“I’m not looking to raise more money,” McMahan said. “I’m looking for creativity and freedom to educate. That’s what’s exciting about this district of innovation. Let the educators do what they’ve been trained to do; let them teach. Let them tailor the process to meet their students’ needs.”
Watching the program here, Hoseman said, “I saw the basis for significant success.”
McMahan said he has toured 31 schools in seven school districts, “and I asked teachers what their biggest problem is, and they said the No. 1 problem in discipline, but I didn’t see that here.”
He said the Leader in Me instilled pride in the students, adding the students applied for jobs in the school.
“That was incredible, the relationship between the students and the teachers,” he said. “The students are trying to find their own careers, and the teachers help them know the value of education. That was refreshing to see that. I can appreciate what’s taking place here — the enthusiasm and pride.”
At River City, he said, students already have a plan and see the steps to reach their goal.
Hosemann said a study has shown 71 percent of the jobs being created now will require a two years of education beyond high school, “and they’re (the students) getting that now.”
McMahan cited another study showing students in the future will be working at jobs that do not exist today. “That’s profound,” he said.
“We just want them to train, we want to give them the basic skill sets,” Hosemann said, saying he and McMahan saw robotics and students studying in medical areas, adding programs like the Academy of Innovation and River City allow students “to dream to do whatever they want to do.”
“You can’t teach individual responsibility,” he said. “It has to come from within. But what they are doing is enabling a student to have individual responsibility and giving them the tools to dream.”