Dean Provence Endowment Grant Winners Announced

Pictured l-r: Tammy Almand, Katie Kidd, Tracy Vainisi, Julie Eaton, Mary Beth Muncie, and Keith Conlee, President of Endowment Board. Not Pictured: Lee Allen Holt.

The Dean Provence Endowment for Excellence in Education Board has announced the allocation of funds totaling nearly $12,800 to teachers in the New Albany School District (NASD). In an effort to maximize the effectiveness of the awards, this year grants were directed to New Albany Middle School, New Albany High School and NASTUC.  Endowment funding will be used for equipment and materials in the classroom that are not typically covered by the school budget.

The Endowment for Excellence in Education was begun in 1986 as the vision of School Board member Dean Provence. Provence, a New Albany native, was an active volunteer in both school and community activities. Through his volunteer efforts, he recognized the need for additional funding in the schools for projects and classroom materials, and was instrumental in establishing the endowment fund. Following his death, the locally supported endowment fund was renamed in memory of Provence and has continued to provide needed funding to classrooms in the New Albany Schools for more than twenty-five years. Since 1986, the Endowment has provided approximately $359,000 in support to the NASD.

The endowment is funded through individual and corporate contributions and fundraising events sponsored by the Endowment Board. Contributions to the Dean Provence Endowment for Excellence in Education are accepted throughout the year and may be mailed to New Albany Schools, Attention: Melanie Anderson, 301 Hwy. 15 North, New Albany, MS 38652.

Project – Applicant – School – Amount Awarded

Special Effects Lighting Production, Mary Beth Muncie, New Albany High School, $8,439

INAYEMS News, Tracy Vainisi & Julie Eaton, New Albany Middle School, $2,600

STEM Robotics, Lee Allen Holt & Tracy Vainisi, New Albany Middle School, $933

Flexible Seating, Tammy Almand, NASTUC, $312

Teen Life Skills Series, Katie Kidd, NASTUC, $499

 

 

New Albany School District Promotes National Dropout Prevention Month During October

October is National Dropout Prevention Month, a time to focus on increasing awareness of the long-term effects on students, the economy, and society when students drop out of school. National Dropout Prevention Month challenges our nation to become better informed about how to prevent students from dropping out of school.

The New Albany School District is committed to student achievement, student attendance, and dropout prevention this school year and in the coming years.

To promote awareness and better prepare for putting dropout prevention measures in place, a team from the National Dropout Prevention Center visited New Albany High School (NAHS) in the spring of 2017 for the purpose of interviewing staff and collecting data.  This team prepared a report for the high school which offered ideas and strategies for improving the dropout rate.

Dr. Mark Wilson, who is considered an expert in dropout prevention, conducted a two-day session with school administrators and counselors on specific strategies each school could use in their dropout prevention plans.

“Our district dropout prevention team has worked very hard to create a dropout prevention plan for our district,” said Superintendent Lance Evans.  “This is an ongoing process where our team meets on a regular basis to report on progress and seek input.”

Evans credited the high school for their work with students on credit recovery, as well as the work the elementary and middle schools are doing to insure that dropout prevention starts in the early years of a student’s education.

John Ferrell, NAHS Principal, explained that several students graduated in May 2017 because of the credit recovery opportunities that had been made available to them.  He also noted that students that are juniors and seniors have been identified that are behind a grade level or more in school.  The counselors are working with these students on an individual basis to develop a plan on completing credit recovery courses so that they can graduate on time with their age level peers.

The decision to drop out of school is not due to one single factor. It is the result of a process that often begins years before the actual event. Communities that understand the life-long impact for students who drop out of school and that work together to support at-risk students, however, can help decrease the likelihood that students will drop out of school. Begun early, effective prevention initiatives are the result of community-wide efforts that involve families, businesses, faith-based organizations, and schools.

National Dropout Prevention Month encourages public, private and nonprofit entities to raise awareness of the issue and encourage all students to stay in school for the brighter future it means.

The Alliance for Excellent Education reported that, on average, non-graduates earn $8,000 less per year than high school graduates; rely more heavily on public health services; are more likely to be involved in the criminal justice system; are more likely to rely on various sources of public assistance and welfare; often experience quality-of-life challenges as a result of lower income levels and higher rates of public dependence; and are less likely to vote, have poorer health, and have shorter life expectancies than graduates.

“We understand that dropout prevention is a commitment and partnership between the schools, community, businesses, and families,” Evans emphasized.   “We are working hard to make sure that the schools are working hard to increase our graduation rate and lower the number of dropouts in the New Albany School District.”

21st Century Program Offers Summer Enrichment for Middle Schoolers

NAMS student Jada Baker displays the teddy bear she made during Sewing Club time in the 21st Century Summer Program.

New Albany Middle School offered some popular enrichment classes this month for 6th-8th graders.   Sewing, cooking, and robotics were offered through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Grant Program.

The instructor for the Sewing Club was Patrice Mason.  Students learned basic beginner sewing and how to use a sewing machine.  They made pillows, teddy bears, tote bags, and table cloths.  Throughout the classes, students learned how safety and math are integrated into sewing.

Maia Miller served as the instructor for the Cooking Club.  Students learned kitchen safety and hygiene, while using mathematics in their daily activities.  “We have learned how to double recipes and half recipes, as well as measure liquid and dry ingredients,” Miller explained.  “It is important for students to understand those real-life connections between cooking and math.”

The Robotics Club’s instructors were Jalon Bullock and Latrina Bynum.  Students were exposed to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) activities.  Lessons included general coding, drone flying, sphero, and vex robotics.  Students visited the Career & Technical Education Center on the high school campus to visit the STEM and Engineering Labs.

Throughout the twelve day program, students were also given time each day to work on their summer reading projects which will be due in August when they return to school.

The 21st Century program supports the creation of community learning centers that provide academic enrichment and remediation opportunities during non-school hours for students.  In 2013, the New Albany School District received a five-year federal grant to provide before and after school tutoring, as well as summer programming.  The school district is completing the fourth year of the grant.

“We are excited that we were able through our summer programming to offer our students a broad array of enrichment activities that can complement their regular academic programs,” said Melanie Shannon, Project Director for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Grant.

 

New Albany Students Attend Career & Technology Day

The New Albany School of Career & Technical Education hosted “Career & Technology Day” on Friday, May 5 on the campus of New Albany High School.

Career and Technology Day began as Technology Day in 2009 to expose high school students to the technology used in industries and careers in the northeast Mississippi area. The event has been held annually since 2009 and has grown to include more college and career related information.

This year the Career and Tech Day was expanded to include students from 3rd-8th grade in the New Albany School District.  Students from New Albany Elementary School and New Albany Middle School were able to participate in this year’s event and received backpacks to place the career information they received during the day.

Career and Technology Day was funded through the “PRIDE through College and Career Awareness” grant that the New Albany School District received through funding from the Toyota Wellspring Fund.

More than twenty-five exhibitors and presenters were on hand to inform students about their careers, as well as describe the technology that is used in their careers.   Vendors included:  Blue Mountain College; Northeast Mississippi Community College; University of Mississippi; MSU Extension Service; Miracle Ear; Rowan Dentistry; Mississippi Game and Fish; Mississippi Forestry Commission, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers; Leggett and Platt; MooreSites; Cooper Electric; BNA Bank; New Albany Light, Gas, & Water; Tennessee Valley Authority; Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union County; New Albany Police Department; New Albany Fire Department; Union County Sheriff’s Department; Northeast Union County Volunteer Fire Department; Mississippi Highway Patrol; Mississippi National Guard; Mississippi Department of Health; Mississippi Department of Human Services; and WTVA News.

 

 

New Stage Theatre Provides Performances for New Albany Schools

New Stage Theatre, a professional theatre located in Jackson, Mississippi, presented in-school performances of The Selfish Giant and Oh Freedom! The Story of the Underground Railroad to students in the New Albany School District on February 16-17.

New Albany Elementary School hosted two performances of The Selfish Giant on Thursday, February 16.  Oscar Wilde’s classic children’s story about The Selfish Giant who wouldn’t share his beautiful garden becomes a joyous play that touches on themes of friendship, empathy, sharing, and kindness. The giant comes home from a long trip to find children playing in his garden. He kicks them out, threatening to bring them to justice for trespassing. But a harsh winter—in the form of comic characters Frost, Snow, and North Wind—brings the realization to the giant that the children who used to trespass in his garden implanted friendship in this special place. The giant’s heart melts in a life-changing moment, and spring, along with the children, returns to his garden.

Oh Freedom!  The Story of the Underground Railroad was presented to New Albany Middle School and New Albany High School students on Friday, February 17.  The greatest collaboration against racism in American history, before the Civil Rights Movement, was the Underground Railroad. People of all ethnic backgrounds, of both sexes, and from North and South came together to resist the oppression of slavery by helping escaped slaves make their way to free territory in the years before the Civil War. Oh Freedom! The Story of the Underground Railroad celebrates these alliances by combining the many stories with songs of the period. Famous participants like Harriet Tubman and Harriet Beecher Stowe are represented as well as lesser known heroes of the movement like John Rankin, whose house on a hill was a beacon for freedom; the mysterious “Peg Leg” Joe who moved among the plantations teaching slaves to escape and “Follow the Drinking Gourd,” a song designed to show them the way; and Henry “Box” Brown who had himself put in a box and mailed to freedom. The production will encourage student audience participation in the singing of traditional spiritual, “Oh, Freedom.” The story inspires all to work together for the good of all as it celebrates a time when Americans were at their courageous best, supporting one another—regardless of background, ethnicity or gender—in the cause to extend to all Americans our greatest, most inalienable right: freedom.

New Stage Theatre is a professional not-for-profit theatre.  New Stage Theatre’s Arts-in-Education tours are supported, in part, by Entergy, the Chisholm Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi, and the Mississippi Arts Commission.