Governor tours VWSD schools to learn more about system’s innovative reputation

Published 9:57 am Thursday, December 15, 2016

Gov. Phil Bryant simply had to see it for himself.

The Mississippi governor had heard all of these great things going on. He heard it from friends, like Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr. and state education leaders, but for him, visiting a few of the schools in the Vicksburg-Warren School District was the only way to grasp what was truly going on.

Wednesday, Bryant visited students and classrooms at the Academy of Innovation, Warren Central High School, River City Early College High School and the district’s Career and Technical Education program located at Hinds Community College.

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“I had heard earlier about the innovation that we see here in this Academy of Innovation and so I wanted to come and learn more about it and be able to talk to some of the students,” Bryant said. “It is what I think we need more of.”

The students gave Bryant, along with VWSD Superintendent of Education Chad Shealy, a tour of the entire school.

“It is pretty incredible to have Gov. Bryant call and say that he needs to see what is going on in Vicksburg,” Shealy said. “It was just an impromptu call and then it took a few weeks to get everything scheduled.”

The tour included math, robotics, keystone, digital media and history classes to observe the students, teachers and technology present in the classrooms. Bryant spoke to some students and teachers about the different lessons and projects they were working on, like short film, coding, the Constitution and computer testing.

“If you look at the collaborative problem solving these students are doing at a pretty high level, that’s the reality of the world,” Bryant said. “So they will be prepared not only to go on to a higher education but be prepared for the advanced challenges we hope we will have in the future in advanced manufacturing, in our defense industry and in medicine.”

He tied in the subject matter being taught in the classroom to real life careers these students could explore in Mississippi in the future.

Bryant told a robotics class that Meridian had been selected by Raytheon as a site to manufacture the T-100 Air Force jet trainer program, bringing job opportunities to 300 engineers, and about the value of having the Federal Aviation Administration’s Center of Excellence for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Research located at Mississippi State University.

Bryant said Flaggs is the person who told him great things were going on within the school system.

“I’m a visual learner, so I had to come and see it and hear it. Mayor Flaggs is someone who certainly is sold on this project and this school system and is a good friend of mine,” Bryant said. “So I thought it was a perfect fit not only to be able to come and learn but to see what we can recommend for some other schools across Mississippi.

“This is about learning,” Bryant said. “In July I’ll be coming in as chairman of the Education Commission of the States. It is all 50 states involved in how we can innovate education and how we can give more of that innovation opportunity to state leadership.

‘This is a good way to get started to show them what we’re doing here in Mississippi.”

After the tour, Shealy said Bryant asked him for a video of the system’s program, a project Shealy said the system is working on.

“(Bryant) told me he has a meeting with the president on Jan. 22 and wants to be able to show him what education in America should look like,” Shealy said.