The Great Leap Year
Dr. David Daigneault
Some years are uneventful and pass with little fanfare. And then there are years like 2017.
By the calendar, it wasn't a leap year, but for Grenada School District, last year definitely represented a giant leap forward. It started off with Grenada being named a District of Innovation by the Mississippi Board of Education. We were selected, among very few other state districts, for our formal plans to conduct more forward-thinking curriculum. This distinction has already allowed us special exemption from certain state regulations, especially in our integration of advanced strategies into our science classes.
Our implementation of advanced STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) strategies through Project Lead the Way has seen tremendous results. Middle school and high school students are now being trained in such cutting edge classes as design and engineering, biomedical science, and robotics. The program will expand this year in first through sixth grades.
To establish a more updated learning environment for our advanced Project Lead the Way curriculum, we built two new labs at the high school — one for engineering and one for biomedical. Phase one of an extensive high school renovation took place last summer, which reflects a more modern, professional aesthetic.
Meanwhile at the elementary school, we expanded our Pre-K program. Early test results for four-year-old students completing the class have been astounding, and we raised the bar with the state's first three-year-old Pre-K class. Watch for further expansions of these early learning programs in the near future.
And finally, we received our accountability grades from the Mississippi Department of Education. Grenada earned a grade of B and a ranking of 40th out of 147 other state school districts. We've used the data to close learning gaps and redouble our efforts.
Following this reflection on our district's many proud achievements in 2017, it's time to get back to the drawing board and push ahead. We're developing new programs and forming new relationships to give our students the best educational experience
Here are just a few of the exciting things we're looking forward to this semester at Grenada Schools:
The Arts Center
The district recently purchased a house behind the bus yard, and our crackerjack construction team has completed renovations. (Read the story on page 7 of this issue.) This will be the new home for the GHS art department, headed up by Melissa Taylor, who has done a remarkable job teaching visual arts. Her students have held multiple exhibits to showcase their paintings and pottery, and we anticipate the program to grow with this new dedicated space. Watch for adult night classes in the future.
Culinary Arts Due to dramatic student interest, we're expanding the culinary arts program at the Grenada Career and Technical Center. Construction begins in early 2018 on a new classroom kitchen with work stations to provide even more in-depth, hands-on learning for students. Once things get up and running, we hope to open classes to adults as well.
Modine, the local manufacturer of heating and cooling systems, has committed to enhancing our welding program at GCTC. They've already begun updating the welding shop with new equipment and lighting to teach brazing, a specialized metal-joining process that will prepare students for this specialized trade. We're excited and thankful for Modine's extraordinary commitment, which will help train a local work force when the program gets up and going later this year.
Integrated Marketing Communication
This spring GHS will expand its journalism program by launching a dual-credit class with the University of Mississippi's Meek School of Journalism. This unique class blends online learning with on-site instruction from Ole Miss journalism professor R.J. Morgan. Students will earn high school credit for Marketing Essentials as well as college credit for the Meek School's introductory class Integrated Marketing Communications, which provides an introduction to advertising, public relations, and brand management.
Future Problem Solvers
One of the most innovative programs at the Grenada Elementary Green Top School is Future Problem Solvers International. Fourth and fifth grade students use critical thinking skills to research and develop creative solutions to large-scale, real-world problems. Mrs. Frankie Fortier and Ms. Muffett McPhail coach the teams, which compete against each other to confront hypothetical scenarios set 20-30 years in the future. Teams from all over the state meet each year to test their problem-solving skills in the Mississippi Affiliate Bowl, which Grenada Elementary is proud to host for the first time on March 1-2.
We hope 2018 brings good fortune to our community. Please know that we'll continue to work hard cultivating the young minds of Grenada and striving to bring about the next great leap forward.