TPSD applies to be a District of Innovation

TPSD applies to be a District of Innovation

Last January, the Tupelo Public School District sent out a survey to students and parents of Tupelo Schools in hopes of getting feedback from the community as to what their greatest needs for the district were.

The survey was conducted by Innovation Program Facilitator, Stewart McMillan. With her role, McMillan wished to gather the specific needs of the community, and then follow the steps to incorporate these into school programs.

“I think we always, anytime we’re thinking about doing something new or something innovative, we want to stay grounded and what is the actual need? And then how do we find programs that help fit that need,” McMillan said.

The results of the survey revealed that career and college readiness were one of the most essential aspects for parents and students of the district, along with supporting students who need the extra assistance to enroll in college or find a job after school.

“Our goal is for all students to be college and career ready. And really it is a comprehensive plan of starting at ECEC up,” McMillan said.

The district has already started implementing several programs from the Pre-K level up to high school classes that will help students prepare for college and a career.

“And that’s coupled with our sub groups of students that need extra support. So you’ll see in our plan, there’s a focus on English learners students, there’s a focus on special education students. And there’s a focus on students who are not proficient at some grade level,” McMillan said.

The Early Childhood Learning Center has created a summer program for students enrolling in the following fall, but did not attend preschool in previous years.

Milam has executed an initiative for students who are behind grade level, while the PACE program at the middle school offers support and learning opportunities for students who are over-age for their grade.

The high school has partnered with Itawamba Community College in a program known as ‘Middle College’ to offer juniors with a chance to graduate with an Associate’s Degree along with a high school diploma.

Additionally, the high school has implemented Project Search into the curriculum for special needs students. With this program, special needs students are able to visit various workplaces such as the hospital where they are able to observe and perform tasks that they will do in a later career.

Additionally, the district has officially applied to the Mississippi State Board of education to become an official District of Innovation. As part of this designation, the district has applied for four waivers.

One of the waivers is Project Lead the Way, a career exploration module focusing on engineering and biomedical science to count towards curriculum and graduation requirements in middle school. The other waivers include programs mentioned earlier such as Project Search and Middle College.