Team, teacher recognized at school board

Published 2:35 pm Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Team and teacher achievements highlighted the meeting of the Picayune Municipal Separate School District. Board members were told  about achievements made by the district’s junior high fast pitch softball team and by high school Oral Communications teacher Donna Porter.

Softball coach Kristi Mitchell presented the new fast pitch Picayune Junior High team to the board, with the announcement the team ended its first season with a 10-1-1 record. She told the board she appreciated its members supporting the formation of the team, and expects the team’s performance to only get better.

The team scored 100 runs while allowing only 20 in the season just ended, Mitchell said. She said if the team can stay together through high school, she expects it to bring home a state championship title.

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Porter was presented to the board by Picayune Memorial High School principal Kent Kirkland, stating she won the Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Award and was recently featured on CBS news. The award was given to Porter for a nomination sent in by one of her former students, Dewayne “D.J.” Batiste.

The impact Porter had on Batiste prompted him to submit his nomination. Porter said that on the first day Batiste came into her room, he had every intention of being kicked out of her class. However, the training she received through Conscious Discipline showed her how to deal with children who seek attention by acting out, she said.

“They want attention. They want to be noticed, but don’t know how to do it appropriately,” Porter said.

Instead of sending Batiste to the principal’s office, she gave him the job of door greeter every morning, a job that would cater to his desire for attention and helped him decide to continue his education, according to Batiste’s nomination.

She said Batiste was the leader of a local gang while in high school, but has since graduated from high school and is presently attending Pearl River Community College. Batiste’s change in the course in life has inspired some of his former gang members to continue their education, she said.

Besides recognizing the team and the teacher, board members approved a motion to apply for YouthBuild grant funds. Board member Edward Stubbs said the program will seek students at risk of dropping out of school and train them in carpentry, plumbing or electrical work to keep them off the streets and out of trouble. The three-year program also will enable the students to learn a trade.

The board also decided to continue the Summer Feeding Program. Assistant superintendent Brent Harrell said last year the program provided children with about 10,000 meals, some of which were served to children attending summer church programs. The Summer Feeding Program is funded by the USDA.

Next year’s school schedule will have students taking spring break the same week as students attending the Pearl River Central School District, said superintendent Dean Shaw. This year, students in the two districts took spring break at separate times. The board approved the adjusted schedule.

The board also approved a motion to permit the Lady Tide to use $2,500 in a Coca-Cola fund to help pay for a new score board, with the stipulation that if the team finds more sponsors to pay for the score board, any funds used from it will be reimbursed to the Coke fund.