Where are they now? Jessica Gates

From time to time, we will be spotlighting New Albany Alumni who are making a difference and excelling at their particular work path . . .

Jessica GatesJessica Gates

What year did you graduate high school?

What is (are) the name(s) of the vocational class(es) you completed?
Allied Health

Where did you attend college?
Northeast Mississippi Community College

Please describe how the vocational class(es) you took helped you.
Taking Allied health made me realize that I wanted to pursue a career in the medical field. It put me ahead once I got to college and into the lab technician program because i had already learned so much in allied health. I’m so thankful for Mrs. Voyles and her class!

Please give a brief description of your career.
After college I started working at Baptist in Oxford as a lab technician. I recently left Baptist to work at Internal Medicine in Tupelo.

What degree(s) and/or achievements do you hold?
Associate of Applied Science in Medical Laboratory Technology.

In what city do you currently reside?
New Albany

NAES Celebrates Autism Awareness Month

Autism Awareness

The eighth annual World Autism Awareness Day was April 2, 2016. Every year, autism organizations around the world celebrate the day with unique fundraising and awareness-raising events.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disability  that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. There is often nothing about how people with autism look that sets them apart from other people, but people with autism may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with autism can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some people with autism need a lot of help in their daily lives; others need less.

People with autism often have problems with social, emotional, and communication skills. They might repeat certain behaviors and might not want change in their daily activities. Many people with autism also have different ways of learning, paying attention, or reacting to things. Signs of autism begin during early childhood and typically last throughout a person’s life.  “Autism awareness is a key factor in helping our students become the best they can be at any level of performance. Over the years of my service to students with autism, they never cease to surprise me at their ability to learn and grow when given the opportunity and taught in a way that makes sense to them. I feel like the best part of autism awareness is giving parents, teachers, and children hope that achievement and success are obtainable and not just an unreachable dream,” says Amy Chapman, Behavior Specialist at New Albany Elementary School.

Diagnosing autism spectrum disorder can be difficult since there is no medical test, like a blood test, to diagnose the disorders. Doctors look at the child’s behavior and development to make a diagnosis. Autism can sometimes be detected at 18 months or younger. By age 2, a diagnosis by an experienced professional can be considered very reliable.  However, many children do not receive a final diagnosis until much older. This delay means that children with autism might not get the early help they need. According to Dawn Stroupe, a 5th grade teacher at NAES who has an autistic child, “Obtaining a diagnosis of autism can be extremely difficult. However, as a parent, if you feel that something is different about your child, please continue to ask questions and search until you get answers. Early intervention is so important in the treatment of autism. Having a child with autism is not the end of the world; it is merely the beginning of a new amazing world.”

About 1 in 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder according to estimates from CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network. Autism is reported to occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. Autism is about 4.5 times more common among boys (1 in 42) than among girls (1 in 189).

Spreading autism awareness in schools is a great way to celebrate April and promote inclusion and acceptance in the classroom and beyond. New Albany Elementary teachers and staff are promoting autism awareness throughout the month of April by wearing blue on Fridays. “This year we even have special puzzle piece blue shirts to celebrate our wonderful students and families who know firsthand the struggles that autism brings. The puzzle piece signifies the complexity of autism and stands for… ‘Until all the pieces fit together and we understand everything about autism.’ Our school is dedicated to making a difference in the lives of our students and their families,” added Tammie Reeder, Health Services Coordinator, New Albany Schools.


Weng Named STAR Student at NAHS

STAR Student WengKeXin Weng has been named as a STAR (Student-Teacher Achievement Recognition) Student for the 2015-2016 school year by the Mississippi Economic Council’s M. B. Swayze Foundation, sponsor of the STAR program.

The New Albany High School senior will be honored during the STAR Program at the annual Education Celebration on April 28, 2016, at the Jackson Convention Center in downtown Jackson.  Pinnacle sponsors for this prestigious event and the Mississippi Economic Council are:

AT&T; Atmos Energy; BancorpSouth; Barksdale Management; Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi; Electric Power Associations of Mississippi; Entergy Mississippi, Inc.; Ergon, Inc.;

Ingalls Shipbuilding; Mississippi Power Company; Nissan North America, Inc.; Sanderson Farms, Inc.; South Mississippi Electric Power Association; Trustmark National Bank; Walmart; and Yates Construction.  Additional local support for the STAR program is provided by MEC members from communities across the state.

STAR Students are selected on the basis of academic excellence. Both American College Test scores and scholastic averages are compared to determine the school’s STAR Student, explained Vickie Powell of Jackson, Senior Vice President Foundations. “The STAR program encourages and promotes academic achievement among Mississippi’s high school seniors,” she said.

Weng is the daughter of Lanying Ouyang.  She is a member of the National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, Anchor Club, Spanish Club, and FBLA.  Weng is an honor roll student and has received many subject area awards.  She has served on the Northeast Mississippi Youth Foundation and has volunteered as a peer tutor at New Albany Elementary School.

Each STAR Student is asked to designate a STAR Reacher, the classroom teacher who has made the greatest contribution to the student’s scholastic achievement.  Weng chose Amy Blake as her STAR teacher.

Davis Chosen as Callahan Scholar Athlete

Callahan Winner Katie DavisKatie Davis, a senior at New Albany High School, has been named the Lindy Callahan Scholar Athlete by the Mississippi High School Activities Association.  She was selected as the most outstanding female scholar athlete in District I.

Katie, a 4.0 honor student and multi-sport athlete, has participated in cheerleading, tennis, soccer, and powerlifting during her high school career.  She has received division honors in both soccer and tennis.  She has been a member of the state championship tennis teams for the past three years.

Davis is one of 16 seniors from across the state selected for the $1,500 scholarship. The honorees — one boy and one girl from high schools in each of the MHSAA’s eight geographical districts — were chosen for their academic accomplishments as well as their participation in high school athletics and extracurricular activities.

“We are proud of Katie being honored for this prestigious award,” said Lance Evans, NAHS Principal.  “She is a wonderful example of a well-rounded student athlete.”

Katie is the daughter of Joe and Jennie Davis.

She was honored at the MHSAA’s Lindy Callahan annual banquet on April 4.


MSPRA announces 2015-16 Awards of Excellence winners

MSPRA Winners 2016

JACKSON — Mississippi’s public schools work in myriad ways to communicate with their local communities, and on Tuesday, February 23, some of those efforts were recognized.

“Across our state there are very talented and hardworking people, who work in the field of public relations in our schools, and MSPRA serves as a network to help highlight and honor their efforts in the area of communications and multi-media,” said Mississippi School Public Relations Association president Sherwin Johnson, Jackson Public Schools Executive Director of Public and Media Relations.

During the awards dinner Tuesday evening at the Jackson Marriott Hotel, school districts and school public relations professionals across the state were honored for their publications, marketing efforts and online communications. The recognitions are part of MSPRA’s annual Awards of Excellence program.

Additionally, at the two-day event conference, various speakers from the education, public and legislative sector spoke to the attendees and shared vital information.  

New Albany School District was recognized as an Award of Excellence winner in the following categories:

– First place, Calendars

– First place, Multimedia Projects

– First place, Internet/Intranet

– Second place, Handbooks

– Third place, Marketing Material