Health Officials Remind Parents: “It’s Time for Back to School Immunizations”


While the end of summer seems a long time away, the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) reminds parents that state law requires kids to be immunized against childhood diseases to enter public or private school, Head Start or daycare.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 95 percent of parents nationwide choose to vaccinate their children, protecting them against potentially deadly diseases.

“Childhood vaccinations protect your child and those around them,” said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Dobbs. “The back-to-school rush is our busiest immunization effort each year. It’s great to see children receiving required vaccinations, and we remind parents that the best protection is having their children immunized on time.”

Required vaccinations for children entering school in Mississippi for the first time include: diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTaP); polio (IPV); hepatitis B; measles, mumps and rubella (MMR); and varicella (chickenpox). There is also a requirement for children entering seventh grade to receive the Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) vaccination. In addition, human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV) and a meningococcal vaccine (MCV4) are recommended for adolescents 11 to 15 years of age, and a meningococcal vaccine (MCV4) is recommended at age 16 to 18 years.

Parents must provide the school with a Certificate of Immunization Compliance (Form 121) from their local health department or physician prior to school entry.

“To prevent school registration or school entry delays, it is important that our students entering PreK, Kindergarten, and seventh grade receive the required vaccinations and present the proper paperwork at their respective school prior to the first day of school,” said Tammie Reeder, Health Services Coordinator for New Albany Schools.

You may check with your physician or county health department if you have questions about which immunizations your child will need. Those 18 and under who are eligible for the Vaccines for Children program can receive vaccinations for $10 each.

The MSDH accepts Medicaid, Medicare, CHIP and the State and School Employees’ Health Insurance Plan (AHS) as well as most private insurance plans that cover childhood vaccines.

For more information on immunization requirements or medical exemptions for school entry, visit To secure an appointment for immunizations at the Union County Health Department, call 662-534-1926.


NAES Receives Toyota Grant

Toyota Image

New Albany Elementary School will introduce students and their families to the Ticket to Read program during the 2016-2017 school year.

Ticket to Read is an interactive, Web-based, student-centered learning component that promotes the practice of text reading. The program enables students to build fluency, strengthen vocabulary, and reinforce comprehension skills as they navigate a self-paced instructional path. Motivational features provide students with incentives to practice. An embedded reward system is included in this program.  Students also receive constant feedback to monitor their performance, and reports are available to teachers.

Ticket to Read Phonics has 14 different instructional Phonics Paths and the reading component has 16 Reading Levels. Students are assigned a Level or Path based on their Online Phonics Placement Assessment. Ticket to Read can be accessed from any computer with an Internet connection at school, at home, at the library, or in any after-school setting.

Students and parents will receive more information about this program, including login information, during the first month of school.

The Ticket to Read program during the 2016-2017 school year is being made possible in part from grant funding provided by Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Mississippi.

“We are excited to be a recipient of the Toyota Mississippi grant and to be able to provide this new reading initiative at NAES for the upcoming school year,” said Jamey
Wright, Principal.

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.


Getting More Students to Begin their Day with Breakfast

Breakfast Week 2

“Wake Up to School Breakfast” Encourages New Albany Elementary School Families to Choose Breakfast at School

Busy weekday mornings make it a challenge for families to find time for a healthy breakfast. However, US Department of Agriculture data show that more students are starting their day with a nutritious breakfast in their school cafeterias. To encourage more families to take advantage of the healthy choices available with school breakfast, New Albany Elementary School recognized National School Breakfast Week during March 7-11, 2016.

School Breakfast Week 3The National School Breakfast Week (NSBW) campaign theme, “Wake Up to School Breakfast”, reminded the entire school community that school breakfast provides a healthy, energizing start to the day for students. Students were encouraged to “Wake Up” their minds and bodies during March 7-11 with special menus, decorations, cafeteria events, and more.

Fun-named menu items such as Kickin’ Chicken & Bisucits, Sunrise Sausage & Biscuits, Dawn of Pop Tarts, Stretchin’ with Cereal, and Morning Muffins were served during the week. On Thursday, March 10, school administrators assisted cafeteria workers with serving breakfast to students. On Friday, March 11, student athletes from New Albany High School ate breakfast with NAES students.

Breakfast Week 1“A healthy breakfast at the start of the day is one way to ensure students are getting the best education they can,” said Tammie Reeder, Health Services Coordinator for New Albany Schools. “National School Breakfast Week helps us educate parents and students about all the healthy and appealing choices we offer”. School nutrition professionals in the New Albany School District prepare breakfast and lunches every day that meet federal nutrition standards – limiting fat, calories and sodium – and encourage students to choose from the fruits, vegetables and whole grains offered with school meals.

School Breakfast Week 4

National School Breakfast Week was launched in 1989 to raise awareness of the availability of the School Breakfast Program to all children and to promote the links between eating a good breakfast, academic achievement and healthy lifestyles. The “Wake Up to School Breakfast” campaign is made possible by the nonprofit School Nutrition Association and Kellogg’s Specialty Channels.


New Stage Theatre Presents Arts-In-Education Programs

New Albany Androcles

On February 18 & 19, New Stage Theatre presented in-school performances of Androcles and the Lion and Mississippi Talking: Scenes from Mississippi Writers at New Albany Elementary School and New Albany High School, as part of the New Stage Theatre Arts-in-Education statewide touring program. Androcles and the Lion was presented on February 18 at 10:15 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. at New Albany Elementary School for 1,128 Pre-K to 5th grade students; and Mississippi Talking was presented on February 19 at 8:15 a.m. for 498 6th through 8th grade students and at 10:00 a.m. for 545 9th through 12th grade students.

Androcles and the Lion, adapted by Kathryn Walat from Aesop’s fable, features an unlikely trio of friends of a singing mouse, an escaped slave, and a hungry lion whose bond is put to the test in this enchanting and heartwarming 50-minute play. Androcles, an escaped slave from the city, makes his way into the jungle where he finds the Lion with a thorn in his paw. Risking capture, Androcles decides to help the Lion and the two become fast friends. But when the evil Emperor imprisons the two companions, it’s the tiny Mouse who reminds them all that friendships aren’t easily broken.

New Albany MS TalkMississippi Talking: Scenes from Mississippi Writers is an entertaining and moving show, which illuminates the richness of the state’s culture in scenes gathered from the works of Mississippi’s finest writers. Audiences will be fascinated by this 55-minutes theatrical view of Mississippi that joins comic and dramatic scenes selected from poetry, drama, short stories, and novels by Eudora Welty, Tennessee Williams, Richard Wright and more.

The shows were directed by Chris Roebuck, Education Director at New Stage, and Francine Reynolds, Artistic Director at New Stage. They were performed by New Stage’s Professional Acting Company members Chris Ambrose, Matthew Denton, Allison Heinz, and Briana Thomas.

The performance was followed by an open discussion between the acting company and the students.  The discussion explored the literature, the themes of the play, and the experience of acting.

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, and the Mississippi Arts Commission.