Pictured above: NAHS School Nurse Jill Robbins conducts a lesson with a group of seventh grade girls.
The New Albany School District adopted an abstinence-only education curriculum in May 2012 to comply with the requirements of the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE). But the New Albany Schools already had a well-established policy and method of teaching in place long before MDE mandated policy and curriculum adoptions.
This is the twenty-first year that all seventh grade students at New Albany Middle School (NAMS) have had the opportunity to participate in the annual abstinence education course in a safe, positive setting. Boys and girls are separated during the course and are taught by school nurses in the district.
The abstinence-only program at NAMS has grown over the years and experienced minimal changes. The program started as a partnership between the school and Junior Auxiliary of New Albany and has evolved into the school district taking over the project and receiving funding from various grants and local funds. “Sex Respect” was the curriculum that was used for the first 15 years then replaced with the “WAIT Training” program. The WAIT Training curriculum is one of the MDE approved curriculums for an abstinence-only program.
The course is not required but is strongly encouraged with parental permission. The course focuses on refraining from sexual contact until marriage and birth control is not taught as an option. Students also learn about the many risks associated with premarital sex including physical, emotional, psychological, and social.
“Our school nurses do a great job teaching this program to our students. These nurses are present with students on a daily basis and are available for follow up discussion regarding concerns later. Feedback from parents and previous students has always been positive. Many parents have these discussions with their children but many struggle with getting the conversation started. We continuously emphasize to students that talking with parents is very important because parents are more knowledgeable than peers. We feel that being a part of this course at school is also important because it gives students the opportunity to hear the correct information together.” explained Tammie Reeder, Health Services Coordinator for New Albany Schools.