GSD Awarded "District of Innovation
At Grenada School District, we like to say walls are removed and windows are thrown open for student success.
The Mississippi State Board of Education recently affirmed that message by approving our "Walls to Windows" plan, naming Grenada one of two new Districts of Innovation in Mississippi.
This new distinction, which stems from legislation passed in 2015, grants our district exemption from certain state regulations, allowing us to explore a more forward-thinking curriculum to achieve our performance targets.
To achieve this great distinction, GSD was required to submit an extensive application detailing our plans for innovation. We were invited to present our "Walls to Windows" plan before a review panel in Jackson, who selected Grenada as one of only two districts to earn the new mantle.
Along with the second district, a collaboration between Baldwyn and Booneville Schools, Grenada joins previously designated Corinth, Gulfport, and Vicksburg-Warren as the only other districts to enjoy this honor.
Jean Massey, Executive Director of Secondary Education at the Mississippi Department of Education, said, "These districts have demonstrated a commitment to improving education for all students and they are taking different approaches to providing an education experience to better prepare students for the future."
The state board cited four key components of GSD's "Walls to Windows" plan that contributed to the district's success:
Our new Learning Blocks program for pre-K students, which had a promising start last semester, will be expanded to include some services for the students at Grenada Head Start. Now all of our county's four-year-olds will have the opportunity to receive early education, which has been proven to affect future success in life. Currently, our entering kindergarten students are scoring slightly below the state average, but we're confident that this extra year of learning will promote faster development and yield new strategies to implement in our Early Learning Collaborative. GSD's Learning Blocks program is one of only four selected in 2016-17 by the Mississippi Depaitment of Education to meet early-learning requirements.
Project Lead the Way
GSD is the first and only district in Mississippi to implement Project Lead the Way (PLTW) in every single school. We're encouraged by the early success of this program, in which students become problem solvers through use of a structured approach in engineering design and critical thinking. Our new state distinction will allow us to blend these advanced studies with current science curriculum. The expansion of these programs from grades 2nd to 12th will help more students advance toward career paths in biomedicine, robotics, and computer science.
Early College High School Initiative
GSD works closely with Holmes Community College (HCC) to provide students the opportunity to take high school and college level online classes via dual credit/dual enrollment.
Soon students in 11th and 12th grades will have the option to attend HCC, either on the college campus in Grenada or via dual credit classes on our high school campus. In order to create a culture for college or career readiness, GSD is considering transitioning from the traditional seven-period day schedule to a modified block schedule, which will allow students critical time to deepen their learning experience in a given subject.
Pathway to Possibilities
GSD is establishing this program to build on learning from one course to the next by offering students career pathways. By their junior year, Grenada students would be ready for the Early College High School Initiative. The goal is to increase the number of students who participate in advanced placement courses and dual placement courses and to make learning more personalized by helping students choose courses that make learning both meaningful and relevant to their interests. We're continuing to work with colleges and universities to offer college-level courses.
We feel confident the innovations in our "Walls to Windows" plan will empower students by introducing knowledge of career opportunities at an earlier age and will provide them with advantages when they enter the work force.