Hattiesburg begins same-sex classes

Published 6:48 pm Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Hattiesburg School District is following a popular trend across the country and now offers same-gender classes at Rowan Elementary.

The National Association for Single Sex Public Education says seven other Mississippi public schools offer similar programs, but these are the first in Hattiesburg.

Principal Melvia Fountain said she believes separating the boys from the girls while in the sixth grade could eliminate pubescent issues.

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Tyrrence Holliman and Malik Walker, both 11, said they miss being in a classroom with girls, but said it’s not that bad and their grades are improving.

“It’s fun,” Tyrrence said. “I’m learning more.”

Fountain said the separation opens a forum for the students to discuss issues that are gender-specific without being embarrassed.

She said it will also help students focus more on academics and allow teachers to form gender-specific lesson plans and activities.

“Boys like one thing, and girls like another,” she said. “With separating them, we can now focus on learning materials that are of interest to each group to help improve academic achievement.”

The students are separated in the classroom, but extracurricular activities and lunchtime remain co-ed, Fountain said.

Hattiesburg schools Superintendent Annie Wimbish proposed the same-gender classroom idea to her administration last year. She thought it would help reduce disciplinary issues and increase academic performance.

“I had read a lot of literature on other facilities operating with same-gender classrooms,” she said. “There were a lot of success stories and, now, we are able to do a little research ourselves.”

Rowan is the pilot that will determine if more same-gender classrooms will be formed in the Hattiesburg district.