Area school districts to consider MEC program
Published 7:00 am Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Last week, Mississippi Economic Council President and CEO Blake Wilson stopped in Picayune to share some of his thoughts on Mississippi’s economic future.
During part of the talk, Wilson mentioned the MEC’s Mississippi Scholars and Mississippi Scholars Tech Master programs, two partnership programs his organization has launched across the state, though to date, there have been no partnerships in any of the Pearl River County school districts.
The program puts individual school districts in contact with the MEC who have two different curriculum plans; one for the Scholars program that is STEM (science, technology, engineering and math)-focused and the other for the Tech Master Curriculum, which is geared toward students interested in technical vocational fields.
Depending on the curriculum the student chooses, students must complete certain courses, maintain good grades, avoid suspensions, complete community service and have good attendance. If a student completes all of the requirements, upon graduation the MEC will provide them with medallions. Schools must also invite a community business leader into the schools once a year to talk to the students about local business conditions.
Once a district partners with MEC, counselors then report back to MEC regarding which students are on track with the program.
Vickie Powell, the senior vice president of MEC, said the program is meant to improve high school students’ college readiness and, eventually, workforce readiness in Mississippi. Powell said the partnerships have been successful throughout the state, and in most of Mississippi’s 82-counties, MEC has partnered with at least one school district.
“The Scholars Program has been around since 2003, 2004 and we’ve had over 31,000 students graduate with that distinction,” Powell said.
Powell added that the partnership does not cost the school district anything, although they will need to organize a business speaker each year. She suggests districts partner with the local Rotary Club or Chamber of Commerce.
Powell said some communities do more than that to support the program, including providing small scholarships to students who graduate through the program, and at least one county has a county-wide showcase of the Scholars graduates each year, and this helps spur student interest in the program.
“What you’re doing there is, you’re serving as a lightning rod because other students want to be recognized as well,” she said.
However, they are seeking partners in Pearl River County. Picayune Superintendent Dean Shaw said he had not heard of the program until last week.
However, Shaw said he is amenable to the partnership.
“We are considering this, so this is something were going to look into. And once we look into it well go from there,” he said.
He added the district could partner with the MEC as early as the next school year.
Pearl River County Superintendent Alan Lumpkin also said he’d not heard of the program, but he said he’d look into it, too.
Poplarville Superintendent Carl Merritt was out of the office on Monday and could not be reached for comment.
If anyone would like to know more about the program, Powell invites local administrators to call her at 601-969-4418 or email her at email@example.com .