Russell Named NAES Principal

New Albany Schools is pleased to announce that Gwyn Russell has been named the new principal of New Albany Elementary School.

Russell is currently the principal at Pontotoc Middle School. She replaces Jamey Wright, who was recently named principal of New Albany Middle School.

Mrs. Russell earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Blue Mountain College and her Masters in Administration from Arkansas State University.  She recently received the honor of Administrator of the Year for Pontotoc City Schools.

She holds more than nineteen years educational experience as a coach, classroom teacher, and administrator. Russell is National Board Certified and has been a part of the National Writing Project.  She has taught special education, physical education, English Language arts, reading, and social studies.  She served as Director of Student Services for Pontotoc City Schools for two years and has served as principal of Pontotoc Middle School since 2013.

Lance Evans, Superintendent, commented, “We are extremely proud to announce Mrs. Gwyn Russell as the Principal of New Albany Elementary School. Mrs. Russell’s experience and success in education is impressive. She has the leadership abilities to put our students and staff in the position to continue the success that Mr. Wright has developed.”

Please join the School Board and New Albany Schools in welcoming Mrs. Gwyn Russell to her new position and to New Albany.


“I Heart School Breakfast” Campaign Encourages Students to Choose Breakfast at School

To encourage more families to take advantage of the healthy choices available for school breakfast, New Albany Elementary School celebrated National School Breakfast Week during March 5-9, 2018.

Busy weekday mornings make it a challenge for many families to find time for a healthy breakfast. However, US Department of Agriculture data show that more and more students are starting their day with a nutritious breakfast in their school cafeterias. Studies show that students who eat school breakfast are more likely to:

  • Reach higher levels of achievement in math
  • Score higher on standardized tests
  • Have better concentration, memory and alertness
  • Have improved attendance, behavior, and academic performance
  • Maintain a healthy weight

The National School Breakfast Week (NSBW) campaign theme, “I Heart School Breakfast”, reminded the entire school community that school breakfast provides a healthy and energizing start to the day for students. Students were encouraged to show their enthusiasm for “I Heart School Breakfast” from March 5-9 with special cafeteria events:

  • Monday, March 5-Students were able to watch The Emoji Movie while eating breakfast.
  • Tuesday, March 6-Members of the New Albany Police & Fire Departments joined NAES students for breakfast.
  • Wednesday, March 7-School administrators helped serve breakfast to NAES students.
  • Thursday, March 8-A photo booth was set up for students to participate in during breakfast at the NAES cafeteria.
  • Friday, March 9-Student athletes from New Albany High School joined elementary students for breakfast.

“A healthy breakfast at the start of the day is one way to ensure students are getting the best education possible,” said Tammie Reeder, School Health Services Coordinator for New Albany Schools. “National School Breakfast Week helps us educate parents and students about all the healthy, great tasting, 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 – while encouraging students to choose from the fruits, vegetables and whole grains offered with school meals.”

The “I Heart School Breakfast” campaign was made possible by the School Nutrition Association and Kellogg’s®.  National School Breakfast Week was launched in 1989 to raise awareness of the availability of the School Breakfast Program, a federally assisted meal program operating in public and non-profit private schools and residential child care institutions since 1975. 

Teachers from New Albany Elementary Attend Special Literacy Training

Thirteen teachers from New Albany Elementary School (NAES) recently participated in the Brainspring Phonics First© course in Ripley – an Orton-Gillingham-based training offered to teachers in districts participating in the State Systemic Improvement Plan (SSIP) by the Mississippi Department of Education’s Office of Special Education (MDE OSE).  Thirty-six school districts throughout Mississippi participate in the SSIP on a voluntary basis, with a focus on improving outcomes for ALL students through high quality professional development for teachers in effective, evidence-based literacy instructional strategies.

Participants have expressed their excitement about being able to incorporate these multi-sensory strategies into their classrooms.

“We are excited about the opportunity for our teachers to go through the Phonics First© training,” said Jamey Wright, prinicipal of NAES.  “We feel that training in evidence-based instructional strategies, such as Orton-Gillingham, will enable our staff to better meet the needs of all learners.”

The 5-day Phonics First© course in Ripley was the first of many planned throughout the state during the 2017-2018 school year to teach multi-sensory, Orton-Gillingham-based strategies to teachers to help them meet the needs of struggling students.  Orton-Gillingham is an approach often used with students diagnosed with dyslexia.  Having classroom teachers trained in the Orton-Gillingham approach ensures that teachers know and can use instructional strategies that research has shown help students learn to read.

Several more teachers from NAES are registered to attend upcoming Phonics First© trainings as well.  For more information about the Brainspring Phonics First© training being offered by the MDE OSE, please call the MS Department of Education at (601) 359-3498.

NAES Reading Fair Winners

Front row l-r: Wesley McLeroy, Heidee Sanford, Julianna Langley, Landon Evans, Prarthana Patel; second row l-r: Kailey Harris, Dawson Horn, Kemp Smith, Colby Anne Pickens, Ansley Coleman; back row l-r: Kate Ladner, Wyatt Taylor, Sam Mallette, Metlek Parida
Front row l-r: Bailey Cook, Macy Ligon, Gwen Ivy, Lilly Shannon, Miracle Hurd; back row l-r: Mason Tate, Jack Prather, Lucy King, Heidi Clayton Chanapon Weaver, Paxton Weaver. Not pictured: Joseph Petty, Claire Adkins, Samuel McClure, and Caurie Clayton.


The Annual Reading Fair was held at New Albany Elementary School on Thursday, October 19.  The following winners were announced:

Division A – Kindergarten – Individual Literary Fiction

1st Place:  Wesley McLeroy

2nd Place:  Kailey Harris

Division B – 1st Grade – Individual Literary Fiction

1st Place:  Heidee Sanford

2nd Place: Dawson Horn

3rd Place:  Kate Ladner

Division C – 2nd Grade – Individual Literary Fiction

1st Place:  Julianna Langley

2nd Place:  Kemp Smith

3rd Place:  Wyatt Taylor

Division D – 3rd Grade – Individual Literary Fiction

1st Place:  Landon Evans

2nd Place:  Colby Anne Pickens

3rd Place:  Sam Mallette

Division E – 4th/5th Grade – Individual Literary Fiction

1st Place:  Prarthana Patel

2nd Place:  Annsley Coleman

3rd Place:  Metlek Parida

Division H – Grades 3-5  – Informational Nonfiction

1st Place:  Lilly Shannon

2nd Place:  Miracle Hurd

3rd Place:  Joseph Petty

Division K – Grades PreK-2 –  Group Literary Fiction

1st Place:  Bailey Cook & Macy Ligon

2nd Place:  Gwen Ivy, Claire Adkins, Samuel McClure

Division L – Grades 3-5 – Group Literary Fiction

1st Place:  Mason Tate, Lucy King, & Jack Prather

2nd Place:  Chanapon Weaver & Paxton Weaver

3rd Place:  Heidi Clayton & Caurie Clayton


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.”