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CONNECTIONS spring 2014

MASTER MINDS Tech Masters Program





































OPENING LETTER From new educator evaluations to new graduation options for all K-12 students in Mississippi, this year brought a number of changes, and the MDE appreciates your professional approach to making the required changes to your practice and your relentless commitment to student success in our state. As I read through the stories in this issue of Connections, that commitment showed in every piece. From the innovative approaches to transferring hands-on learning to an online environment (p. 24) to the inclusion of four additional CTE programs in performance-based assessment (p. 20), your ability to revise your programs to best meet student and industry needs is impressive.

CONNECTIONS contributors


Leanne Long Alexis Nordin Bradley Skelton Denise Sibley Michelle Taylor Suzanne Tribble

I also thoroughly enjoyed reading the two profiles this month: 35-year veteran educator Mary Moore from McKellar Technology Center (p. 16) and Precision Machining student David Thomas from Pascagoula College & Career Technical Institute (p. 18) each have a lot to teach us about incorporating passions into our work and broadening our perspectives on what CTE can do for ourselves and our communities. Also eye-opening, students in Covington County’s Teacher Academy program collaborated across the world with a school in Bulgaria on a communication project (p. 7). CTE in Mississippi is truly reaching around the globe! As you read about these stories and others included in the issue, remember to share CTE success from your district with people in your area to build the awareness of programs in your local community. And finally, don’t forget to register for the MDE/MS ACTE Summer Conference if you haven’t already done so. This year’s conference promises to be just as successful and informative as last year’s—you don’t want to miss it!

Lynn Eiland Kristen Dechert

Brooke Boyd Heather Craig

Want your school featured in

CONNECTIONS? We want to hear about your success stories, awards, and program accomplishments. If you have a story idea, please contact Lynn Eiland,

Save the date:


Jean Massey Associate State Superintendent Office of Career and Technical Education




Spring 2014 CONNECTIONS 3


INNOVATION MONTH Promoting Innovation Through Education by Bradley Skelton


lthough Mississippi has garnered worldwide renown through musical greats like Elvis Presley and B.B. King, few people recognize Mississippi as a hotbed of modern innovation. Many do not realize the vast technological contribution Mississippi innovators have provided. However, Innovate Mississippi is working diligently to change that perception. Innovate Mississippi is a 501c3 organization originally formed as Mississippi Technology, Inc. in 1998 as a vehicle to cultivate innovation- and technology-based economic development in Mississippi. In 2012 the organization changed its name to Innovate Mississippi to better represent the company’s focus.

One such event was “The Hour of Coding.” The Hour of Coding is an initiative of, a non-profit organization founded in 2013 to promote K-12 computer science education. set forth a challenge to schools across the country for teachers and students to spend one hour of time per day learning about coding during Computer Science Education Week. developed a programming tool called “Scratch” for students to use during the Hour

Since its inception, Innovate Mississippi has collaborated with state and national companies, educational entities, and community leaders to broaden the educational opportunities and technological output of Mississippi’s technology-based companies. Sumesh Aurora, Vice President and Director of Strategic Biomass Solutions with Innovate Mississippi, worked with Governor Phil Bryant to make November the state’s official Innovation Month. Concerning his proclamation creating Innovation Month, Governor Bryant stated, “Mississippi’s innovative economy is helping drive economic development for our state. Most recently, the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity named Mississippi fifth in the nation for business startup activity in 2013. This distinction would not be possible without the innovative people and businesses that make Mississippi great and drive innovative business growth.” Utilizing the proclamation, Innovate Mississippi partnered with the Mississippi Development Authority and Maris, West and Baker Advertising to develop a website dedicated to this endeavor, This website provides information about events, sponsors, and schools participating in Innovation Month activities as well as articles about innovation in Mississippi. 4


of Coding. Scratch is a user-friendly drag-and-drop format that enables students to learn basic coding techniques quickly and easily. In Mississippi, thirteen schools participated in the Hour of Coding, including Highland Elementary in Ridgeland. Worldwide participation in the Hour of Coding topped 18 million people. Randy Lynn, Vice President and Creative Director at Maris, West and Baker Advertising, was instrumental in bringing this event to Highland Elementary. Lynn and his wife Sissy, a Highland PTO board member, approached school officials

INNOVATION feature with the opportunity to participate in this event to develop “technology creators, not just technology consumers.” Planning and training events helped prepare the principal, teachers, and PTO members for the weeklong event. The Lynns worked with Highland’s principal, Marilyn Naron, to help set up the event. Monica James, the school’s computer teacher, also played a large part in developing the plan to participate in the event. The collaborative efforts and 100 percent participation resulted in an award of $10,000 worth of computer equipment for Highland Elementary courtesy of This award was presented to Highland Elementary by local and com-

continue to impact the landscape of education and innovation in the State of Mississippi. Lynn urges parents and community leaders everywhere to contact school administration, school boards, and legislators to promote computer science education. Future Mississippi Innovation Month activities and additional Hour of Coding events are already in the works. Lynn stated, “I believe computer science offers a huge opportunity to stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship in our state.” Together, Innovate Mississippi, local educators, and businesses are helping to foster an atmosphere of high achievement in computer science.

Governor Bryant stated, “Mississippi’s innovative economy is helping drive economic development for our state. Most recently, the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity named Mississippi fifth in the nation for business startup activity in 2013. This distinction would not be possible without the innovative people and businesses that make Mississippi great and drive innovative business growth.” munity leaders at the Hour of Coding kickoff and celebration event. During the kickoff and the following event days, students used the time each day to learn about coding using an online tutorial that featured characters from popular games, such as Plants vs. Zombies and Angry Birds. According to Lynn, only two high schools statewide offer AP Computer Science. Teaming with Innovate Mississippi,, and Highland Elementary, Lynn hopes to better equip Mississippi students for computer science careers. “Computer science careers are in demand, pay well, and offer a good work life, yet most young people do not choose computer science as a career path if they haven’t been exposed to it well before college. I think every Mississippi child deserves that opportunity,” said Lynn. Lynn hopes to use this year’s successes to encompass more schools into 2014’s Hour of Coding and Mississippi Innovation Month. Through news and promotional materials, the goal is to grow this event yearly until all schools offer this and many other computer science offerings to the students of Mississippi. is also providing free curriculum materials for schools and school districts to utilize in computer science instruction, as well as partnering with several schools to provide professional development for staff in computer science education. “Mississippi’s economy has so much potential right now. Adding another layer of knowledge-based training to our educational system now will pay exponential dividends down the road,” said Lynn. With the success of online enterprises, video games, and technology gadgets, careers in the computer science industry will continue to grow as a high-wage, high-demand career field. Events like the Hour of Coding, Mississippi Innovation Month, and others will

If you or your school district are interested in participating in Mississippi Innovation Month or the Hour of Code, visit or for additional information.

Spring 2014 CONNECTIONS 5


Of CTE Student Participation in the Mississippi Scholars Tech Master Program Allows students to compete for special scholarship opportunities

Preference given to Tech Master graduates in the hiring process

Provides official designation on high school transcript and diploma

Standards set by business leaders

Provides opportunity to give back through community service


COVINGTON COUNTY CAN COMMUNICATE Teacher Academy Students Participate in Long-Distance Communication by Michelle Taylor


oan Easterling, Teacher Academy instructor at Covington County Career and Technical Center, found a unique way to help her students meet two competencies in the Teacher Academy curriculum. While searching for a project that would safely expose her students to communication with new people, Easterling came up with the pen pal project. This year, Easterling required her students to communicate with people from another country. In the process, the students learned to respect and understand cultural diversity.

People International revealed Covington County Teacher Academy students’ partner school--a school in Vrasta, Bulgaria Initial Communication Easterling indicated that very few of the students were reluctant to begin participation in the project. Most were thrilled with the assignment and immediately performed a Google search to find Vrasta, Bulgaria. Easterling and Kalina, a Bulgarian 12th grade English instructor, communi-

“Their initial expectations proved incorrect. Covington County students were happy to discover that their Bulgarian counterparts were extremely energetic and very social. They were more interested in creating relationships than discussing cultural similarities and differences.” “I wanted my students to see beyond the boundaries of Covington County as well as explore different methods of communication (regular snail mail, email, social networks, and video chat),” Easterling said. “I believe that tolerance is the most important quality a teacher can possess, and this project has allowed my students to embrace diversity and satisfy curiosities rather than being afraid of the unknown. My goal is for my students to take with them experience as well as knowledge, and this project has taught them more than a textbook ever could and made a memory that will last forever,” Easterling explained. Easterling began searching for options for achieving these competencies last summer. She applied for a partner in July 2013. The project then began in August, when People to

cated for the first time via email in mid-August. Follow-up communication began with each student making a photo résumé to mail to the Bulgarian students. The two teachers sent photos of their families to one another. After working together a few weeks, Easterling and Kalina felt comfortable enough with one another to video chat. Video chats had to be planned carefully because of time zone differences. Easterling was concerned about language issues. To check out the feasibility, the two women video chatted before the students were given the opportunity to do the same. Easterling said her concerns proved unnecessary. The Bulgarians speak English extremely well. The only communication problems were difficulties involving the Southern slang of the Covington County students. Skype Communication Prior to the students’ Skype session with their pen pals, the Bulgarian and Covington County students planned quesSpring 2014 CONNECTIONS 7

feature COMMUNICATE tions to ask one another. Both groups of students were anxious about the session; however, the students’ fears were soon dispelled. The Skype session turned into a social hour instead. Initially, the Bulgarian students asked questions about Mississippi. In turn, the Covington County students asked questions about Bulgaria. This questionand-answer session was designed to allow each group the opportunity to introduce themselves to one another and to become more comfortable with each other. As the video chat progressed, each student introduced himself or herself. Each individual shared about a hobby or talent he or she possesses. The groups discussed the differences in the climate and weather for their respective locations. They then discussed famous people from their country (or, in the case of Covington County students, our state). Covington County students were delighted to discover that one of the stars from the hit television show “The Vampire Diaries” is from Vrasta. Before wrapping up the discussion, the students decided that the next Skype session will feature each group of students presenting a talent showcase for the other group. Both classes were already anticipating the next session with excitement. Covington County students could not wait to tell the other students in their schools about the communication session. Student Response Easterling’s Teacher Academy students have found the project to be more than a typical learning activity. Most of them have found the project to be an unforgettable cultural experience. Students were eager to explain to Connections

readers how this project has made a personal impact. Each group of students confessed to having preconceived notions of what should be discussed or how the other group would act or look. Covington County students were happy to discover that their Bulgarian counterparts were extremely energetic and very social. They were more interested in creating relationships than discussing cultural similarities and differences. Allison Humphrey described her first experience talking with the Bulgarian students, saying, “Their teacher had a lot of questions for us about our learning styles, while the students were more interested in finding out about our traditions and values. Their class had researched Mississippi, and they showed us three different posters they made all about our home state. This was touching in so many different aspects; I gained respect for the strangers that I now call friends. Never did I imagine that interaction with a Bulgarian class would be on the Teacher Academy agenda, but I sure am glad that it was,” explained Humphrey. Ashlyn Lowery, another Covington County student said of the endeavor, “Teacher Academy has offered the ultimate experience. Communicating with the Bulgarians is an eyeopening opportunity for our class; [I am] seeing outside of America for the first time. Having this open line of communication will surely come in handy later on in our lives for us as future teachers.” Easterling was happy to share about some of the engaging projects birthed from her Teacher Academy students’ Pen Pal Project. Photo at left: Covington County students Skype with their Bulgarian pen pals.



COMMUNICATE feature groups were assigned the task of creating an encyclopedia. Each letter of the alphabet was used in the encyclopedia. The entries under each letter described something of that particular group’s culture in an effort to provide their counterpart school with greater understanding. Culture Box To aid with understanding the groups’ cultural differences, each group brought a box to the classroom. The students put items in the box that related to culture of the region. After all the important and pertinent items were collected, the students photographed each item and wrote an explanation or created a short videography of the item. Then the information and the items were carefully gathered into a box and shipped to the other group.

Cooking Together The idea of cooking together appealed to both the Bulgarian and Covington County students. Each group created a video to send to the other group. The video was designed to demonstrate the steps involved in preparing a unique cultural dish. The Covington County Teacher Academy students made Oreo balls because, as Easterling said, “Everyone knows that Mississippi is the junk food capital of the world.” The Bulgarian students demonstrated how to prepare a Bulgarian salad.

Future Plans Regarding the project’s success, Easterling said, “This has been a wonderful experience for me and my students. We have learned a lot and hope to learn more as the project progresses. My students have connected with the Bulgarian students on Facebook and Instagram. Kalina and I communicate almost daily and have become really close friends. We have made a connection that will not end with this school year but hopefully last a life time.”

ABC’s In order to demonstrate a language’s role in culture, both

People To People International Formerly known as The President’s People to People Program, PTPI was founded in 1956 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower at the Red Cross Building. It is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that still supports Eisenhower’s original goals and ideals. Tolerance and understanding are the primary tenets for this organization. The organization promotes understanding of different cultures through direct communication. The group is comprised of private individuals from 160 countries volunteering their time and energy from around the world. The United States’ PTPI headquarters is located in Kansas City, Missouri. The headquarters for Europe is located in Berlin. Many famous people have been involved with PTPI since its founding. These celebrities include Walt Disney, Bob Hope, Charles M. Schulz, Joyce C. Hall, Rafer Johnson, Gary Sinise, and Laura Hillenbrand. Sinise and Hillenbrand have worked with PTPI since 2004 through Operation International Children, an organization founded by Sinise and Hillenbrand, to help children in Afghanistan and Iraq have school supplies. PTPI has also worked with eliminating landmines efforts in 2002 and Sri Lanka tsunami victims in 2004. More information regarding PTPI can be located at the PTPI website at http://www.ptpi. org/. Spring 2014 CONNECTIONS 9

feature SUCCESS Mississippi DECA State Coordinator Named ACTE Marketing Education Division Vice-President

Tammie Brewer was recently elected 2014-2016 National Association for Career & Technical Education (ACTE) Marketing Education Division Vice-President. She is also the Mississippi DECA/Collegiate DECA State Coordinator at the Mississippi Department of Education’s Office of Student Organizations. Brewer has been highly involved in ACTE at the national level by serving on the national awards committee. She is also serving her second term as the Mississippi representative on the Region IV awards committee. She has served at the regional level on the legislative committee as well as the legislative fund committee. Brewer was chosen as the Region IV Outstanding Teacher in Community Service and as the Region IV Outstanding New Teacher. She has presented at two Region IV conferences.

Tammie Brewer

Brewer is currently on the Mississippi Association of Marketing Educator’s board of directors, where she has served as president, past-president, president-elect, and as District I vice-president.

Brewer is also an Honorary DECA Life member and a lifetime member of the DECA Alumni Division. She has served in DECA as a judge, participant, advisor and now state advisor. During her campaign, Brewer said, “As the Marketing Division Vice-President, I would set up and maintain a sharing site for Marketing Educators across the nation. I feel that this would add value to ACTE as a whole and ensure growth in the Marketing Education division.”

Supervised Agricultural Experience Grant Winners

Two Mississippi FFA students recently received $1000 Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) grants through the National FFA Organization. Edi Kent, a sophomore at Lafayette High School, received her SAE grant from Agribusiness Systems. Kent’s instructor is Meredith McCurdy-Rhodes. Kent plans to use her grant to expand her lawn care business, Lawn Commander, through the purchase of new equipment, maintenance of existing equipment, and marketing to new clients. Dillion Cates’ grant was provided by Rabo AgriFinance. Cates is a junior at the Houston School of Science and Technology, and his instructor is Karen Cook. Cates’ SAE involves mowing and fertilizing lawns and pastures in Houston. He plans to use the money to make improvements on the trailer he uses to haul his lawn mower and to purchase a new lawn mower. SAE grants designed to assist students with developing their projects are available through the National FFA Organization. SAEs are the individualized career preparation programs that make up one third of the total Agriculture, Environmental Science, and Technology (AEST) Program. Students are required to research, explore, experience, and record information related to their search for a future career. Many projects may occur within a student’s SAE, such as volunteering, home improvement projects, job placement, livestock projects, field trips, job shadow experiences, or entrepreneurship. FFA members have the opportunity to apply for awards and advanced FFA degrees as a result of their work with their SAEs. In 2013 77 students across the nation received $1000 grants. Pictured left to right: Dillion Cates and Edi Kent.








June 9-13 BLAST OFF Leadership Training for the Mississippi FFA Officer Team FFA Center, Raymond, MS


June 2-5 Mississippi FFA State Convention Mississippi State University, Starkville, MS

June 23-26 National Leadership Conference for State FFA Officers from MS, AL, and LA FFA Center, Raymond, MS June 25 Mississippi FFA/4H Horse Evaluation Career Development Event Fordice Center, Mississippi Fairgrounds, Jackson, MS June 30-July 3 Summer Leadership Conference #1 for FFA Members FFA Center, Raymond, MS July 7-10 Summer Leadership Conference #2 for FFA Members FFA Center, Raymond, MS July 14-17 Summer Leadership Conference #3 for FFA Members FFA Center, Raymond, MS

June 23-27 National Leadership and Skills Conference Kansas City, MO

June 25-28 National Leadership Conference Disney’s Coronado Springs, Orlando, FL


June 27-July1 National TSA Conference Gaylord National, Washington, DC


July 6-10 National Leadership Conference San Antonio, TX

MPES Forms

July 31 Deadline for CTE Directors to Upload MPES Forms 1 and 4 into Canvas


July 28-29 Hinds Community College–Rankin, Pearl, MS

Spring 2014 CONNECTIONS 11


MASTER MINDS Mississippi Scholars Tech Master Program Offers CTE Students Unique Recognition Opportunities by Alexis Nordin

“It’s great to be honored by business leaders.” “It is special to be part of the first group of Tech Masters.” “I am glad that business and industry recognize what we do in the CTC.” “This could help me get a better job one day.” “The Tech Master program recognizes students in front of their peers.” “Why isn’t my child doing this?”


udging from their above comments, CTE students, parents, and educators in Laurel, Como, and Madison are abuzz with excitement about the new Mississippi Scholars Tech Master program. The initiative is the result of a partnership in which the Mississippi Economic Council’s (MEC) Public Education Forum of Mississippi and the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) have joined forces to recognize exceptional high school CTE students. Jones, Panola, and Madison are three of seven counties piloting the Mississippi Scholars Tech Master program this year, along with Bolivar, Jackson, Lincoln, and Union. The program will roll out to all counties next year, according to Vickie Powell, senior vice president for foundations for the MEC. The Mississippi Scholars Tech Master program grew out of the Mississippi Scholars program, which began in 2003 as a way to encourage more students to pursue STEM careers. Powell explained that Mississippi Scholars was initially started “to encourage students to take a rigorous course of study, focusing mainly on the middle 50 percent of kids who can do well but need that extra push to do so.” The Mississippi Scholars program mandates not only academic requirements for students, but also includes community service, grade point average, attendance, disciplinary, and ACT requirements, and Mississippi Scholars must receive recommendations from school administrators to achieve the designation. The new Tech Master program was born out of Mississippi 12


Scholars as a way to supply local industries with a more technical workforce. “We recognize that a lot of the jobs here in the state are skilled-labor jobs—well-paying jobs at that—so we developed a group of some of the top leaders in the state to come up with a curriculum for the Mississippi Scholars Tech Master program,” Powell stated. The Public Education Forum of Mississippi consulted with the MDE’s Office of Career and Technical Education and Workforce Development to help develop the curriculum, which is available at, and pilot counties were selected based on support from local industry representatives on the MEC. While similar to Mississippi Scholars, the Tech Master program’s curriculum is more technical in nature, requiring high school students to complete computer and CTE credits and achieve a passing score on the Mississippi Career Planning and Assessment System, Edition 2 (MS-CPAS2) or MDE-approved industry certification exam. Tech Masters are also required to earn an 18 or higher on the ACT or a 36 or higher on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery Test (ASVAB). Like their Mississippi Scholars counterparts, Tech Master graduates must also meet statemandated high school graduation requirements and fulfill community service, GPA, attendance, and disciplinary components. As an added bonus, “I believe our involvement in the Tech Master program will help students see the importance of

MASTER MINDS feature performing well on the MS-CPAS2 and industry-based certification testing,” noted Aimee Brown, principal of the Madison Career and Technical Center. “Our students will see that there is recognition for doing well in these areas.” Brown thinks that her center’s proximity to Tech Master supporters like Nissan, Entergy, and Yates Construction will benefit her students in numerous ways. “We hope that our involvement in the Tech Master program will strengthen our partnerships with these organizations so we are able to offer more internships, job shadowing, and work-based learning opportunities to our students,” she stated. Powell stresses that the industries and individuals involved with the MEC comprise only some of the businesses and local leaders who helped launch the Tech Master program. She encourages all schools, businesses, or individuals interested in the program to contact her at the MEC. “We want to involve everybody. We all have a role to play, not just one particular sector or business. In order for us to move the state forward, we all have to pitch in and do the best job we can to provide opportunities for our kids,” Powell noted. To build interest in the Tech Master program, the MEC has begun touting the new program to students as young as eighth graders. Powell wants students—and their parents—to know about the programs before completing their Individual Career and Academic Plans (iCAPs): “Then [stu-

more tech-savvy young workforce, but also to foster wellrounded, civic-minded individuals who are job or college ready. The MEC encourages communities to partner with their local businesses to offer college scholarships for Tech Master graduates. Powell praises the aggressive fundraising efforts of counties such as Lincoln and Jones that have helped raise over $500,000 from businesses and colleges to provide academic scholarships for the Mississippi Scholars. Powell hopes donors will follow suit and offer equal support to the Tech Master graduates in their communities. Powell’s office is currently working with the Office of CTE and Workforce Development to identify high school seniors throughout the state who meet the Tech Master requirements. Jean Massey, MDE associate superintendent of CTE, has encouraged all districts—not just those in piloting counties—to contact her office if they have graduating seniors who meet the Tech Master requirements. Tech Master graduates qualify to receive special designations on their high school diplomas and transcripts. Madison County Schools have already identified at least 37 seniors who will soon graduate as Tech Masters, Brown reports. Meanwhile, CTE students in Laurel, Como, and Madison look forward to blazing a trail for future Tech Masters. Laurel School District superintendent Chuck Benigno praised, “The Laurel Schools are thrilled to be a part of the initial

“The ultimate goal is not only to produce a more tech-savvy young workforce, but also to foster well-rounded, civic-minded individuals who are job or college ready. The MEC encourages communities to partner with their local businesses to offer college scholarships for Tech Master graduates.” dents] can be aware of the jobs and career opportunities that are available. We start having that conversation in the lower grades because we recognize that you have more parental involvement in the early years.” Initial feedback regarding the Tech Master program has been extremely positive, reports Carolyn Shaw, director of the North Panola Career and Technical Center in Como. She has partnered with local middle and high schools to promote the program and will highlight the program in an upcoming school board meeting. Shaw reports that both parents and educators have gravitated toward the new offering. “They are asking, ‘What do you do with [the Tech Master credential]? What are the possibilities?’” Shaw said. “I tell students, ‘How would you like to present your credentials [to a hiring manager], and yours has “Tech Master” on it? You would have a leg up.’ Students can see merit in it,” Shaw added. “It’s not a hard certification to earn. I tell students, ‘You can do this.’”

launch of the MS Scholars Tech Master program. What makes the Tech Master program so exciting is the collaboration between Mississippi’s schools and industry leaders. This new distinction changes the game and gives our students a genuine path toward securing the kind of quality jobs that will provide them with hope for a bright future.” Added Brown, “We are honored to be part of the pilot for the Tech Master program, and we are looking forward to growing the program and seeing our students honored for their achievements in career and technical education.” Shaw noted, “The program gives our students more choices in Mississippi. I think one of the goals will be to keep the people we train in the state. Just think about how many doors would possibly be opened for them.”

For additional information about the Mississippi Scholars Tech Master program, please contact Vickie Powell,

For the MEC, the ultimate goal is not only to produce a Spring 2014 CONNECTIONS 13


MISSISSIPPI SCHOLARS TECH MASTER IN THE MAKING: JAELYN TAYLOR Meet Jaelyn Taylor, a senior at Laurel High School Career and Technical Center and a member of the 2014 inaugural class of the Mississippi Scholars Tech Masters. “Laurel High School CTC students are excited about the Tech Master program and are thrilled at the doors the distinction could possibly open for them in the future,” center director Becky Sanders said. Congratulations to Jaelyn and all of the 2014 Tech Masters! What are your educational and/or career goals after high school? “After high school, my plans are to continue my education in a field of psychology.” What inspired this goal? “I have always been interested in human behavior and how people’s minds work. I want to study psychology because I’m curious about how other people feel and react to different situations and why.” Why do you want to be a Tech Master? “I want to be a Tech Master because I feel that it is an opportunity that can be useful later in life.” How do you think the Tech Master designation will help you achieve your educational and career goals? “It will help me stand out and show that I am willing to work hard to accomplish my goals.” What would you say to encourage other students to pursue the Tech Master designation? “To other students I would say that the Tech Master designation is a good thing to consider being a part of. It can help you in the long run by helping you stand out amongst others who may be competing for the same position you are.”



20/20 PROGRAM feature


A Clear Vision for Your School’s Future What is involved in the program? Meet with principals/directors to determine needs of school/faculty/students Create professional development plans based on specific needs Provide this ongoing, face-to-face professional development in four sessions throughout the school year

Topics of the PD from this year (sample plan):



MSTAR Domain I

MSTAR Domain III, IV, & V

Teambuilding/Relationships with colleagues and students (with Brain Teasers, Ice Breakers, and Personality Tests) Introduction to data-driven instruction Effective lesson planning Plan for Professional Learning Community (PLC) (Peer reviewing/coaching/feedback)

PLC Checkup M-STAR Checkup and Applications Bloom’s Taxonomy/DOK Correlation Effective questioning based on DOK and Bloom’s/ Higher Order Thinking (HOT) Skills Effective questioning role play




MSTAR Domain I, II, III, IV, & V

PLC Checkup

Close look at data

Depth of Knowledge (DOK) Training

Data-driven instruction

Classroom and statewide assessment alignment/ Item Writing Training

Plan and revise for next school year

Practice modifying and writing assessment items

Peer review/feedback

For more information, contact Myra Pannell at 662.325.2510 Spring 2014 CONNECTIONS 15

profile EDUCATOR


McKellar Technology Center Early Childhood Education Years of Service: 35

“My message to beginning teachers would be to always keep an open mind and never forget that every child should be given the opportunity to learn at his or her own pace.” What is your teaching philosophy? I believe that every child can learn and should be given the opportunity to learn. As Beverly Sills once remarked “You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.” I am well aware of the fact that all children don’t learn at the same pace. But nevertheless, we as educators must find a way to reach them and motivate them to the point of wanting to learn. As Oliver Wendell Holmes remarked, “A mind stretched by a new idea never returns to its former dimension.” Share some teaching memories that you will always have. I carried a group of young ladies out to dinner to a very exclusive restaurant, and they stated that no one had ever taken the time to do this for them [as a result] of their performance in school. My heart was deeply touched by their response. Now I know what Helen Keller meant when she said, “The best and most beautiful things in the world can’t be seen or heard, but must be felt with the heart.” What have you learned from your students through the years? I have learned that by giving them the best that I have over the years, they in return have given me their best. How has your teaching evolved? Over the years, I have seen many changes in the classroom, with the students and the curriculum, which have made a great impact upon my teaching strategies. What message would you give to teachers just beginning their careers? My message to beginning teachers would be to always keep an open mind and never forget that every child should be given the opportunity to learn at his or her own pace. In essence, we as educators must be willing to give our best in order for them to give their best.





Facing page: Mary Moore in traditional African dress. Moore has many African ensembles that she wears every workday during the month of February. Current page: Left to right (front row) Stephanie Taylor, Alexis Richardson, Rochelle Carter (second row) Kayla Taylor, Xena Conway, Kristin Wallace, Qua’nick Hodges, Ty’Jay’A Alsobrooks (back row) Mary Moore, Amber Boyd, Denesha Nash, Kyla Petty, Ervianna Webber; Right photo: Each student in Moore’s class creates his or her own children’s book.

Describe your most rewarding moment as a teacher. My most rewarding moments were when I was selected as “Teacher of the Year,” and when a former student returned to say how thankful she was to have me as a teacher and mentor who went above and beyond the call of duty to help her instill moral values in herself and her quest to succeed in life. What kinds of special things do you do for your students that seem to make an impact on them? I try to expose my students to all walks of life, which includes new learning techniques, community involvement, and teaching them to give back. What do you want to instill in your students? I want to instill in my students that they can be successful, and they can accomplish great things if they work toward it. What kinds of projects do you do with your students, and which is your personal favorite? I teach my students many projects, such as designing their own daycare center, writing a résumé, creating hand puppets, storybooks, mobiles, lesson plans, games and activities for young children, and maintaining the care of a simulated baby doll for one week throughout the year. My personal favorite is the caring for the babies, because it teaches them about responsibilities. How has teaching changed or defined you as a person? It has helped me to see each student as an individual with great potential. Where will you go from here? What plans do you have on the horizon? After retirement, I will continue to be involved with young adults by staying active within the community. From here, my work will never end. I will continue to encourage young men and women to fulfill their dreams.

Spring 2014 CONNECTIONS 17

profile STUDENT


Precision Machining Pascagoula College & Career Technical Institute

“From machine shop, I understand how things work. Everything that surrounds us right now, in some way, shape, or form, has been manufactured. We would not be the society today that we are if it wasn’t for manufacturing or machining.” Tell me a little about yourself and why you began taking machine courses. I have a unique story. I was born in the Philippines, and when I was nine years old, I moved with my mom to the US where my dad was already living. My older brother started working at a machine shop, and I was somewhat fascinated by this machinist trade. My dad would always tell me to think about the economy and that one of the last people to go out of work is a machinist. So I’ve always considered it a good path to follow, but that was back in elementary school, so I didn’t really know a lot about it. Then suddenly, years later in high school, I found out there was a machinist program, so I thought I would sign up for it. In what way does your music and arts experience help you in your machining classes, and in what way does your machining experience help you in your music and arts classes? They sort of all meld together. I’ve won several art shows and created many T-shirt designs, including the SkillsUSA shirt design for Mississippi. Also, I play the tuba in band and one of my main goals before I finish the machine program is to create my own mouthpiece for my tuba. Also, we use a lot of trig and other math in what we do in machine shop. This is a math-oriented class, so the math and machine shop go well together. With so many talents and passions, do you have a favorite or one you plan to pursue after high school? With all of the areas I’m in, I really like them, and I try to ration my time to be able to do each one. I kind of build experiences with each one and hop from one to the other depending on my mood. It’s hard to say, “Hey, I’m going to do this one thing and make a career out of it for the rest of my life” when I might want to do other things too.





What are your plans after high school? I’d like to go to a four-year college, but I’m not sure which one yet. I’m taking the ACT in April, and from there I’ll decide where I’m going to go. I’m thinking about Mississippi State [University], and my dad told me it would be a good idea to go to Rice University. I’ve often considered going to the University of Southern Mississippi because they have such a good band program. What has been most meaningful to you in your manufacturing program? I love Mr. Lurie. He has showed me so much. From machine shop, I understand how things work. Everything that surrounds us right now, in some way, shape, or form, has been manufactured. We would not be the society today that we are if it wasn’t for manufacturing or machining. How everything evolved over time since the Industrial Revolution, it’s all explained in the machine shop, and it’s still continuing to evolve. What we learn in this program is very valuable, especially to the maths and sciences. It just makes everything around you make more sense. Who has inspired you most in your academic and artistic pursuits? There is a lot of art in my family. My brother is a tattoo artist, and my sister is a band director. I think we all get it from my grandma. She was very good with color. She would take these wild colors and put them all together, and somehow they all made sense—they had a visual balance to them. My mom has inspired me most academically. She has always done everything possible to try to push me toward studying and learning more. When I was five, she bought me these kids’ almanacs, so when other kids were playing with their Tonka trucks, I was learning about different science and math things, like white and red blood cells and the parts of the human body. Although she doesn’t take as much of an active role now that I’m older, she always tells me I just have to go for it. That’s where I got my drive to do well in school—my mom has always told me I need to take care of my grades and make sure I keep those in good shape.

Spring 2014 CONNECTIONS 19

feature SKILLS


Performance-based assessment expands to include eight program areas in Spring 2014 by Leanne Long


n the spring of 2013, performance-based assessments (PBAs) were used in four career pathways: Early Childhood Education, Polymer Science, Simulation and Animation Design, and Teacher Academy. Typically, Year 1 and Year 2 career and technical education (CTE) students take a computer-based assessment at the end of each year to measure their knowledge and skills in the programs. However, due to the unique nature of many Year 2 CTE programs, which mostly employ hands-on learning experiences, capturing student abilities on a multiple-choice test can prove difficult, according to Ashley Brown, a project manager at the Mississippi State University Research and Curriculum Unit (RCU). PBA is designed to measure students’ mastery of the competencies in their curricula through work-based scenarios, providing instructors and outside evaluators a unique opportunity to see how students would perform in the real world, better tying to the actual coursework Year 2 CTE students complete. Additionally, each career pathway has three external evaluators, who are employed in an appropriate industry or possess background knowledge in the tested content area or a related field (with at least three years of experience), so PBA also gives students an opportunity to show employers in their area what they have learned. Linda Giles, counselor at Newton County Career and Technical Center, said, “Performance-based assessment allowed our Early Childhood completers an opportunity to showcase the knowledge and skills they have mastered over their two-year program. PBA provided the students with a hands-on assessment, which measured their ability to take what they have learned in class and apply it to a structured scenario.” 20


The RCU provided test data that compared Year 1 multiplechoice test scores of each program and Year 2 PBA scores to the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) for each of the four areas tested in 2013. The data showed that students were better able to demonstrate their skills in each of the four PBA tested career pathways than they had on the multiple-choice test. Expanding PBA to encompass all career pathways will require improvements for scalability statewide. Brown said, “I learned that assessing this way can be complicated, and it is important to have solid materials and directions to help it all go smoothly. I also learned that others around the country who are starting to assess this way are finding the same complications.” Based on survey results from the spring 2013 PBA experience, several areas of growth were identified, including finding evaluators, technological issues, and efficient use of time. Following testing in spring 2013, Brown and other RCU assessment specialists addressed these issues and revised the PBAs already in place as well as added four additional career pathways, per direction from the Mississippi Department of Education, for the April 2014 testing period. Career pathways that have been added to the PBA list include Architecture and Drafting, Digital Media Technology, Energy, and Transportation Logistics. Completers from these programs will engage in a different end-of-year assessment than the normal multiple-choice Mississippi Career Planning and Assessment System, Edition 2 (MS-CPAS2) assessment. Charish Pierce, CTE counselor at Hattiesburg High School said, “Seeing a student’s work, rather than

SKILLS feature

simply an aggregate score has enhanced the formative use of performance-based assessments. PBA has provided our teachers the opportunity to engage students more in their own learning and interests through the inclusion of reflection and demonstration of thinking processes.” She added that PBA has encouraged her school to “build a professional culture through integrating curriculum, instruction, and assessment” while also ensuring that her students are college and career ready. Brown and others involved in PBA guidance have also revised the structure of the PBA by expanding it from two to three parts. Part one, the job application and résumé, is completed by students in the classroom setting. For part two, the performance scenario, students are provided a testing environment unique to their career pathway that includes required materials and equipment for their assessment. Each student has three hours to complete the performance task. The CTE instructor and the evaluators score the students’ materials. Part three of the PBA assessment is a 10-minute interview session with external evaluators, which takes place on a separate day from the performance scenario after the panel has scored all of the student-created materials from Parts 1 and 2. The new format allows for heightened test security and easier make-up testing, provides evaluators more time to evaluate students’ work, makes accommodating for special needs easier, allows students to work uninterrupted and to be evaluated individually, said Brown. Of the changes from 2013 to 2014, Giles said, “While the RCU has provided more detailed instructions in the 2014 Test

Coordinator’s Guide, my favorite change is the interview, which allows the evaluation and the student interview to be scheduled on a separate day from the performance scenario. The change will allow the students an opportunity to relax prior to the interview.” Giles added that collaboration among Newton County teachers, staff, evaluators, and students was an important part of ensuring a successful PBA experience for students in 2013. The last enhancement for PBA in 2014 was that all external evaluators are offered a short, online training course to familiarize themselves with the PBA process and expectations. The course provides evaluators with information about the CTE program for which they are evaluating, a description of possible activities the students may be asked to complete, a description of the tasks evaluators will be asked to complete, instructions for how to use the rubric to score products, and information about test-security procedures. About these changes, Brown said she is interested to see the effects of interviewing on a separate day from the performance task. “I look forward to feedback from our four new programs on how their students responded to this different type of test. I also anticipate feedback from the evaluators on the course they are required to take….I hope they find it helpful,” she added.

Spring 2014 CONNECTIONS 21

feature CTE

ACADEMIC or CTE? Gulfport Academic Institutes Offer Juniors and Seniors an Educational Experience That is a Blend of Both by Denise Sibley


hen you click on the link to career and technical education (CTE) on Gulfport High School’s website, you see a link to academic institutes. This is not an error; it’s an innovative high school model— the only one of its kind in Mississippi. What distinguishes the academic institutes from other high school models is that they don’t treat academics and CTE as two separate entities. The two have blended to create an individualized educational experience for each and every junior and senior at Gulfport High School.

to engage all of their students, and CTE teachers demonstrate how their programs contribute to student academic achievement.

It has taken a focused, collaborative effort, said Fava. Teachers are required to be more creative than ever because the new program requires clear connections between academics and the world of careers. Students are provided with an academically challenging curriculum enhanced with realworld exposure to their area of interest. All students are assigned work-experience opportunities, such as seminars, According to David Fava, Director of Career and Techniproject-based learning, clinical observations, internships, cal Education, “Compression of the high school setting into and job shadowing. “All students get the flexibility to get four concurrent semesters allows students to get that base experience in a real-world setting and they get to experience level of information in those types of learning the content area and moments, and it is very ACADEMIC INSTITUTES AT GULFPORT HIGH SCHOOL provides the flexibilpowerful,” said Fava. ity that makes Gulfport CAB Institute very unique.” Gulfport High partners Communications, Arts, and Business includes Business Management with local businesses and Administration; Marketing, Sales and Service; Finance; Hospitality In their junior year, stuand organizations, such and Tourism; and Arts, Audio-visual Technology and Communications. dents choose to enroll as Garden Park Mediin one of the three acacal Center and Gulfport demic institutes: Health Main Street, to offer inHHS Institute and Human Services; ternship and mentoring Health and Human Services includes Health Sciences; Education and Communications, Arts, opportunities that match Training; Government and Public Administration; Law, Public Safety, and Business; or Science, the students’ career Corrections and Security; and Human Services. Technology, Engineerfields. Recently, GulfSTEM Institute ing, and Mathematics. port Main Street hosted Each institute has caa walking tour of GulfScience, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics includes Engineerreer clusters that cover port businesses, giving ing and Mathematics; Architecture and Construction; Transportation, a wide array of occupastudents the opportunity Distribution and Logistics; Manufacturing; Agriculture, Food and Nattions. According to Fava, to tour downtown busiural Resources; and Information Technology. “The academic institutes nesses and learn about allow students to get the experience that in the past was business operations, marketing, demographics, entrepreonly directly related to CTE.” In the new model, academic neurship, and advertising. More than half of the 100 stuteachers teach contextual applications, which allow them dents who participated would not have had this opportu22


CTE feature nity in the past because they were not in a traditional CTE class. These types of real-world opportunities are now part of every student’s educational experience. The move to a new high school model was facilitated by the implementation of the Excellence for All pilot at Gulfport High School. Modeled after the Board Examination System, Excellence for All is one of the innovative high school models in the state and focuses on a strong core curriculum comprising coursework that is the most relevant for preparing high school graduates to succeed in college or in a career. The core coursework is designed to be completed at the end of the sophomore year, giving students the opportunity to graduate early. Gulfport is one of the first high schools in the state to pilot the program. Other districts piloting Excellence for All or similar models include Corinth and Clarksdale. Gulfport has used their innovative high school model as an opportunity to better align to college- and career-ready standards as well by choosing the ACT as their Board Exam-

Below left: Damahree Xayasane and Ingrid Zavala (center of photo) pictured with two Garden Park Medical Center volunteers Left: Abi Hodge with a Gulfport fire fighter

Immediate left: Abi Hodge

ination System provider, increasing project-based learning opportunities in courses, and shifting early to the Common Core State Standards. In elementary and middle schools, students in the Gulfport School District and other Excellence for All participants begin learning about career pathways through focused career awareness and development activities. As students reach high school, they continue the process of examining and identifying career paths that connect with their interests and skill sets while focusing on mastery of a rigorous curriculum aligned to the Common Core with an emphasis on ACT preparedness. By the time students reach their junior year, they have already mastered their academic core and established a career pathway that compliments their skills, aptitudes, and interests. All students are held to the same rigorous academic standards and all students participate in a career-related program, said Fava. What the academic institute has done is blur the line between academic and career goals—this “blending of the educational experience” is

one of the biggest strengths of the institutes, he added. The academic institutes are having another positive impact at Gulfport High School as well. The stigma associated with CTE is beginning to fade, said Fava, noting that “CTE [enrollment] numbers across the board are bulging” due to Gulfport’s innovative high school model. Students have come to understand that being college and career ready are mutually inclusive. Whether students are planning to attend a traditional or a technical college or to enter the job market, their educational experience—with a blending of academic rigor and career preparation—will make their transition a success. Spring 2014 CONNECTIONS 23

feature NCCERconnect

NCCERconnect Hands-On Learning Meets Online Learning by Suzanne Tribble


he National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) is an education foundation that was created in 1996. It develops and publishes curricula in over 70 different craft areas and has as many assessments that are offered for certification credentials nationwide. It has also developed a unique online course supplement consisting of an e-book and course management tools that are delivered within a user-friendly software interface. This software, NCCERconnect, incorporates a blended delivery of course materials, distance learning, and traditional classroom instruction into a dynamic learning experience. The Mississippi Construction Education Foundation (MCEF) has been instrumental in the adoption of the standardized competency-based curricula in career and technical courses in Mississippi. Over 170 high school instructors in carpentry, electrical, HVAC, and welding have access to it and completed virtual online training for it. The Mississippi Department of Education Assistant State Superintendent of Education, Jean Massey, agrees that this software is a huge technology leap for the CTE classroom and that it will help instructors bring quality instruction to Mississippi students.

the software from any location with internet access in addition to receiving hands-on experience for their craft in the classroom. Harold Ford, a construction instructor at Caledonia High School, supplements his teaching of first- and second-year students with the NCCERconnect software. He believes that the students can have a difficult time using the textbook alone, and sees NCCERconnect as a more enjoyable option for them. “The students enjoy using computers. Anytime we can get their attention and teach them something, we can improve their chances of being successful,” Ford explained. He believes that by having some experience with computers and the NCCERconnect software, students may even choose to go into a construction management career. In the future, Ford would like to have access to more computers so that he could use the software more often. Rick Robbins has been teaching construction and carpentry at the New Albany Career and Technical Center for four years. He is impressed with the fact that the NCCERconnect software is an online textbook that can be used anywhere

“In using NCCERconnect, teachers can better prepare students to meet the goal of preparing students to the highest level so they can exit high school with the skills and knowledge to obtain additional education or enter the workforce.” “In using NCCERconnect, teachers can better prepare students to meet the goal of preparing students to the highest level so they can exit high school with the skills and knowledge to obtain additional education or enter the workforce,” Massey noted. The NCCERconnect software provides students with interactive elements, such as videos, animations, and active figures. Instructors take advantage of course management tools, such as e-mail, chat, document uploading, and test creation features. This online software allows for a blended learning experience for students because they can log onto 24


and that it includes interactive activities and embedded videos that keep the students’ attention. Next year, when his students have access to a computer lab, he hopes to use it regularly to help the students review the textbook and then apply that knowledge in the shop. “The NCCERconnect software may help some students with learning challenges to better grasp the concepts before practicing them in the shop. It might also help recruitment and help change the image of my class from just woodshop to more of an engineering type of class,” Robbins said. He believes that using this technology could provide inspiration for a student to achieve greatness.

feature At the Hancock County Career Technical Center, Chevis Necaise uses the NCCERconnect software to track his students’ progress. “If an assignment is given, we can track if the student is doing it and, if not, talk to them in class. Being able to communicate with the students is another great feature, whether it is a single student or the whole class that is working on an assignment,” Necaise said. Necaise appreciates the fact that the students have access to their welding textbook and study materials online. If a student is out of school, he or she can log in to their online class to keep up. It also permits students to complete assignments outside of class, which allows more time at school for their hands-on practice. Ultimately, Necaise feels that, as a result of access to this software, Mississippi will have better educated students in the construction industry. He said, “Having a better trained workforce will help attract industry to our area. When companies look at the possibility of a skilled workforce, they will see that we are doing everything we can to better prepare our students to be as knowledgeable about their chosen trade as we can.” Necaise added, “Today our students are into using technology so much more

on a daily basis. This helps get and keep them interested in learning our subjects. We have a better chance of keeping our students involved when we can use technology to teach our classes.” Tomorrow’s workforce depends on quality instruction today. The NCCERconnect software is being used in CTE classrooms as a tool for instructors to be effective in meeting the future demands of the workforce of Mississippi. Online and blended learning is just one way that Mississippi instructors are meeting the challenges of teaching using 21st century technology.

E-Learning: flexible learning for you. featuring Certification of Online Learning (COOL) CTE Endorsement Courses M-STAR Online Modules for Educators Offering classes to fulfill CEU and SEMI requirements. Spring 2014 CONNECTIONS 25


MAKING IT COUNT CTE Teachers Implement Grading Policies and Special Incentives Tied to MS-CPAS2 Scores by Alexis Nordin


his spring, when CTE students complete the Mississippi Career Planning and Assessment System, Edition 2 (MS-CPAS2, widely known as the “CPAS”), some will have the additional motivation of knowing that their scores on the test may also affect their report cards.

.82 percent of over 23,000 MS-CPAS2 items were credited to students in 2012, according to Mississippi State University’s Research and Curriculum Unit, which develops and administers the MS-CPAS2. And yet, according to Betsey Smith, many CTE students do not put forth their best efforts on the MS-CPAS2 because the assessment is neither a course nor graduation requirement. Smith, associate director of CTE at the RCU, explained, “We hear stories sometimes from teachers who say their students think the CPAS doesn’t ‘count.’ That’s a shame because not only are these students shortchanging themselves, but that attitude can also impact teachers when their students don’t appear to show much progress over the course term.”

The MS-CPAS2 is a standardized test typically taken by CTE students at the end of a course to demonstrate their proficiency in the course’s subject matter. As of the 20132014 academic year, the MS-CPAS2 is also being piloted by the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) as a way to gauge students’ progress during the course term, with students taking an MS-CPAS2 assessment at the beginning of a course and later comUPCOMING MS-CPAS2 TESTING DATES pleting an equivalent (but SUMMER not identical) MS-CPAS2 assessment at the end of the July 14-18, 2014 (PS) course. Students’ change in FALL grade is then factored into November 17-20, 2014 (PS & SEC) their teachers’ scores in the Mississippi Teacher EvaluSPRING ation System. April 6-9, 2015 (PS)

Educators and researchers debate the pros and cons of tying state assessments to students’ grades, but a 2012 study ( cfm?DocumentID=405) by the Center on Education Policy posits that students April 13-May 8, 2015 (SEC) MS-CPAS2 assessments are commonly lose intrinsic developed based solely on motivation as they progress items written by CTE teachers for their specific subject arfrom elementary to high school, and lack of motivation apeas. To participate in item development, teachers must first pears to play a significant role in high school drop-out rates complete a training course in writing and identifying items and lower college enrollments. Teachers may help reverse appropriately rigorous for the MS-CPAS2. The items then the trend by putting in place extrinsic motivators. undergo various screening procedures and typically are piloted for at least one MS-CPAS2 administration before apFor example, many CTE teachers in Mississippi are upping pearing as scored questions in an MS-CPAS2 assessment. the ante for their students by factoring MS-CPAS2 scores After testing concludes, the questions undergo further into their students’ final course grades, seeing notable imanalyses to ensure alignment, validity, and reliability, and provements in their students’ scores as a result. Corinth, items that are red flagged are referred to curriculum speNew Albany, and West Point are home to three CTE centers cialists in the MDE for final review. The process of weeding that encourage teachers to tie student grades to MS-CPAS2 out poorly constructed items is lengthy but effective: only scores. 26


MAKING IT COUNT feature Alcorn Career and Technology Center Teachers at the Alcorn Career and Technology Center in Corinth decide individually if they wish to factor students’ MS-CPAS2 scores into course grades, but, according to center director Rodney Hopper, “Most of our CTE instructors use the scores as part of the final grade. Many programs reward students who score high with some type of special recognition during our end-of-year recognition ceremony. Having a timely class [MS-CPAS2] results report allows instructors to analyze results and reward students before they leave the class.” Stephanie Parsons, a polymer science instructor at the center, has seen her students shine on the performance-based assessment (PBA) component of her Career Pathway’s MS-CPAS2. “Many students are not good test takers,” she acknowledged. “A balance can be achieved by averaging class projects graded with rubrics and CPAS scores. PBAs allow students who are not good at written exams to showcase practical skills that Common Core curricula and career and technical education teach, train, and require.” Parsons stressed, “I remind my students throughout the school year

a nine-weeks grade or an end-of-course grade because so many of our classes are hands on, but counting it as a major grade added a lot more weight to it as far as how it affected the student. We feel that it’s a good compromise.” Hobson attributes her center’s dramatic rise in MS-CPAS2 scores to the policy change. “The year before we started this, we had seven students who made 80 percent or higher on the CPAS,” Hobson stated. “The next year when we counted it as a major grade, we had over 30 students, and the next year over 40. It has been a tremendous help for us in getting up our CPAS scores.” West Point Career & Technology Center Before Patrick Ray took over as career-technical director, the West Point CTC had implemented an informal building policy in which teachers count students’ MS-CPAS2 scores as a final exam grade, although students can win exemption from having the MS-CPAS2 counted in their grade by having a high grade at the end of the course. Ray believes that, without such a policy, “There is no positive or negative for the kids taking the CPAS, and they kind of know that,

“I remind my students throughout the school year that our learning will be evaluated with our CPAS exams. I reassure students that their performance measurements help teachers adjust teaching, projects, review, assessments, and time allowed for skills practice.” that our learning will be evaluated with our CPAS exams. I reassure students that their performance measurements help teachers adjust teaching, projects, review, assessments, and time allowed for skills practice.” Nan Nethery, a Teacher Academy instructor at the center, concurred: “I use the CPAS as my Teacher Academy students’ final exam grade.” Otherwise, she said, “While [a student’s] individual score is recorded on his or her permanent record, it does not have a real significance in the student’s eyes, in terms of graduation. Using the CPAS as the final exam grade, students are more likely to try harder because it reflects the outcome of the class.” New Albany/Union County Career and Technical Center The New Albany/Union County Career and Technical Center is in its third academic year of counting the MS-CPAS2 as a major test grade in CTE courses, counselor April Hobson stated. Previously, Hobson said, “We felt that some of our students did not take the test seriously because it was not tied to a graduation requirement like the subject area tests are.” The center’s teachers proposed a remedy—counting MS-CPAS2 scores as a major test grade in conjunction with offering an additional incentive, such as last year’s bowling party, for students who score 80 percent or higher on the test. Hobson noted, “[This combined approach] has really increased our number of students who have scored Advanced [on the MS-CPAS2].” She added, “For us, it is the right policy. We did not want to count [the MS-CPAS2] as

other than the programs that have moved to [industry certifications].” Now, Ray said, because the MS-CPAS2 is administered in April, “[students] know they’ve got to try.” He explained, “They could lose their exemption before the end of the term, and not all of them know whether or not they’re going to be exempt.” He added that using the MS-CPAS2 as the final exam is also practical from the teachers’ standpoint: “It’s a comprehensive exam. The teachers look at it as that there is no point in giving [students] another comprehensive exam three or four weeks later as a final. The kids understand that, too. They’re not going to be tested twice.” The result is less stress on teachers and students. “It saves the teacher a lot of work, and it’s a real motivating factor for the students,” he said. Smith, herself a former CTE instructor and career counselor, applauds these centers and many more like them across the state using MS-CPAS2 scores to hold students more accountable for their learning. It is a practice she hopes other centers will adopt. She noted, “Our CTE teachers consistently work hard and put forth their best effort in the classroom every day. Their students’ scores should reflect the same level of effort.”

For additional information about the MS-CPAS2, please contact Betsey Smith, Spring 2014 CONNECTIONS 27

profile SPOTLIGHT Teacher Academy Students Host Energy Education Week Events

DeSoto County Career and Technical Center Teacher Academy students planned and hosted a clean-energy-themed Energy Education Week in November for sixth graders at Southaven Middle School. The event was part of an entry for the 2014 Future Educators Association (FEA) competition. Amy Wilson, a senior at Southaven High School, volunteered as team captain for the project. Teacher Academy students prepared and taught eight energy-related lessons during science classes for three days. The students researched and designed lesson plans on hydroelectricity, wind energy, and solar power. David Kidd, a senior at Southaven High School, learned that knowing how to manage classes is as important as knowing the material. “I spent time managing that took away from the lesson. It was a good experience,” he said. One day of the education week was designated as Energy Education Day, with participation from three different schools, college students, high school and middle school teachers, and representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. For the last day, FEA students organized an energy-themed door decorating contest. The science class with the winning door received a 28-piece microscope set. In addition, Wilson represented the chapter at the FEA Fall Leadership Conference in Oxford, Mississippi.

Raven Patton and Frank Webb pictured at Webb’s Pharmacy.

Local Businesses Invest in Larry Summers Vocational Center‘s Students Through Shadowing Program

For second-year students at Larry Summers Vocational Center in Yazoo City, November 21st was not a typical school day. Thanks to local business leaders in Yazoo City, these students were provided the opportunity to participate in the annual “Day of Shadowing” program. The school’s job shadowing program is designed to give students a closer look at their career-of-choice and assist them with their future career decisions, and is part of a national job shadow day campaign. Students in Yazoo City observed what a typical day on the job is like for occupations such as teachers, pharmacists, policemen, physical therapists, and day care workers. Raven Patton, a junior at Yazoo City High School, spent her day learning about being a pharmacist through a job shadowing experience provided by pharmacist Frank Webb and the staff of Webb’s Pharmacy. According to the national job shadow day campaign, more than one million young people like Patton participate each year across the nation. Davia Henry-Peyton, who chose to shadow an eighthgrade English teacher at Woolfolk Middle School, said, “It made me realize that this is what I want to do. I can see myself being a teacher and loving it.”

Amy Wilson and Shyann Mooneyham opening projects for Energy Education Week





FCCLA Chapter Provides Support to Ronald McDonald House

Stone High School’s Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) chapter has provided support to families at the Ronald McDonald House at University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson for the past eight years. There are 336 Ronald McDonald Houses throughout the world. Ronald McDonald Houses provide housing to families with sick children in order to reduce the financial burden these families endure and to allow the families to be near their sick children during treatment. Families sometimes spend weeks and even months in these facilities. Stone High School’s FCCLA members collect money as well as need- Left to right: Ashley Johnston, Taylor Smith, Casey Lavender, Christopher Jones, and Detra ed supplies from the Ronald McDonald House Rayford wish list. FCCLA members visit the house in Jackson and provide support by sanitizing the kitchen and playroom, dusting furniture, and vacuuming and mopping floors. FCCLA members also provide emotional support by lending a sympathetic ear to the families. Chapter advisor Connie Guthrie said Stone High School FCCLA members encouraged other chapters throughout the state to consider volunteering their time and money to the Ronald McDonald House at last year’s FCCLA State Leadership Conference and STAR Events. For more information about how you can help the Ronald McDonald House, visit the website at

Left Photo: Gift in a Jar; Right photo (Left to right): Sami Reed, Ashley Murphy, Terrell Evans, Hannah Staton, and Kaylin Trombley

Culinary Arts Classes Use Their Skills to Raise Funds

Sharon James’ Culinary Arts classes at the Choctaw County Career and Technology Center conducted a “Gift in a Jar” fundraiser in December. Each jar contained the ingredients needed to make one of five varieties of cookies. Numerous skills learned in class were involved in this activity. Initially, the students had to convert the ingredients needed for one jar of cookie mix to the amount of necessary ingredients to fill more than 100 jars. Using their teamwork skills, the students then set up an assembly line measuring ingredients and filling the jars. Finished jars were decorated and labeled. Students were successful in their fundraising efforts and funds were used to purchase supplies for the culinary arts laboratory.

Spring 2014 CONNECTIONS 29

profile SPOTLIGHT Collaborating to Build a Go-Kart

The Choctaw County Career and Technology Center’s Robotics and Engineering and Agriculture Power and Machinery Operations classes are collaborating on a project that is an excellent example of integration across the curriculum. Students are constructing a go-kart that will be used for recruiting and providing community recognition to the technology center’s student organizations. Dudley Vance’s Agriculture Power and Machinery Operations students are building the chassis, fabricating the body, and installing the motor. Sunja Douglas’s Robotics and Engineering students are designing and installing the clutching system, drive train, and the electrical components that will incorporate a system of switches for engine ignition. The engineering class will add the final touches by painting and decorating the go-kart with school colors and student organization logos. This project has challenged students to incorporate different aspects of their curriculum and to work in groups on the collaboration of design and ideas.

Pictured: (left to right) Tyler Woodson (first year Agriculture Machinery student) and Tyler Cook (second year Agriculture Machinery student)

McKellar Students Attend Women in Science and Technology Conference

Seventeen female students from the McKellar Technology Center, Columbus, attended the Women in Science and Technology (WIST) conference at East Mississippi Community College, Golden Triangle Campus, on February 28. The students were accompanied by counselor Laurie Davis and student services coordinator Michelle Byrd. The WIST conference offered an opportunity for the students to hear from successful women that work in nontraditional careers focusing on mathematics, science, technology, and engineering. The students also participated in hands-on sessions designed to motivate them to pursue nontraditional careers for females. McKellar Technology Center student Tiffany Guyton said, “I think this program is really inspiring for women to learn about the many maledominant jobs that are out there. You can do anything if you put your mind to it.” Sessions included biomedical and health systems, information systems and computers, chemical/electronics/electrical, machining and robotics, industrial and manufacturing skills, business and entrepreneurship, and science and technology. Pictured Left to Right: Row 1: Mallory Byrd, Xena Conway, Kristen Wallace, Damare Baker, Tacia Beavers, Candace Loftin, Karen Solaria Row 2: Kayla Taylor, Kandace Vaughan, Erica Robinson, Javonna Hampton, Aiyana Gordon, Heather Thompson Row 3: Tiffany Guyton, Tiya James, Michelle Byrd, Laurie Davis, Dwanna Nash, Alexis Richardson





Science Saturdays

Madison County Career and Technical Center’s Polymer Science students are hosting “Science Saturdays” for kids in the community as a fundraiser for the Technology Student Association. The Science Saturdays, held at Madison Career and Technical Center, are offered three times each semester and provide fun learning experiences for young kids desiring to understand basic concepts of science. The hands-on experiments include creating polymer snow, slime, silly putty, volcanoes, screaming balloons, and tie-dye paper. Demonstrations such as a color flame test and a “genie in a bottle” are also presented.

Pictured: Percy Field, Polymer Science student

Instructor Crystal Smith explained the origins of the event, saying, “I taught chemistry for many years and found that teaching with toys was an interesting approach. For most of those years, I kept a science ‘toy table’ in my classroom for students to explore during extra time or upon entering the classroom.” Over the years, Smith noticed that her colleagues’ children found this table intriguing and often dropped by to see what was new. “As they explored, played, and asked questions, I was given the opportunity to share the science concept demonstrated or exemplified by the toy. So, when it came time for fundraising for competition, I thought this was a great concept to raise funds and interest children in science,” Smith said. Smith also hosts summer science workshops for two hours each week over a six-week period. Madison K-6 students rotate through the workshops at one-hour intervals. Each student has the opportunity to attend once in June and once in July. For more information about these science programs for kids, contact Crystal Smith at

36th Annual Mississippi FFA Legislators and Sponsors Breakfast

Featuring a Mississippi-raised farm-to-table menu, the 36th Annual Mississippi FFA Legislators and Sponsors Breakfast took place on February 19. More than 600 FFA members and their advisors joined state senators and representatives for breakfast in the Mississippi Trade Mart. The breakfast showcases FFA members and demonstrates gratitude to state leaders for their support of Mississippi Career and Technical Education’s agriculture programs. The breakfast included a roll call of senators and representatives. Remarks were made by the Commissioner of Agriculture Cindy Hyde Smith and from the President of Northeast Mississippi Community College, Dr. Johnny Allen. Pictured: Students enjoying the 36th annual FFA Breakfast.

Spring 2014 CONNECTIONS 31

profile SPOTLIGHT Child Development Students Support Center for Pregnancy Choices

Students in Cindy Ehrhardt’s child development classes at Florence High School donated baby supplies to the Center for Pregnancy Choices in Pearl. The class hosted a baby shower at the center in October to celebrate the donations. The Center for Pregnancy Choices assists pregnant women with counseling services and baby supplies. The center’s director, Jay-Tea Leggett, attended the baby shower and spoke to the class about teen pregnancy. Pictured: Students from Florence High School’s child development classes at the Crisis Pregnancy Center’s shower.

Blue Ribbon Award Winners

Moss Point students Yazmine Carter and Chris Smith represented the Moss Point STEM Team in the 4-H Robotics Competition at the state fair in Jackson in October. Carter and Smith competed in the 14- to 18-year-old division, dubbed “Senior 4 H’ers.” For the state fair competition, senior 4 H’ers were required to construct an animal. Carter and Smith chose to build and program the “Magnolia Mutt,” a robotic puppy named in honor of the state flower of Mississippi. Carter said, “Building the robot was a lot of fun. This was my first opportunity to touch, build, and control a robot.” Moss Point STEM Team advisors on the project were Billy Carroll and Nikki Cunningham. “Robotics plays a great role in STEM education. The purpose of this project was to give our students an opportunity to learn more about STEM and STEM-related careers through this robotics project,” Carroll explained. Carter and Smith were awarded a blue ribbon for their robotic puppy. Blue ribbons are awarded to the top entries in each category.

Left to right: Betty Clark (Singing River Electric Representative), Billy Carroll (Sponsor), Takya Millender, Shunnessy Odom, Jasmine Irving, Nikki Cunningham (Sponsor), and Durand Payton (CTE Director).

Moss Point STEM Team Receives Grants

The Moss Point STEM Team was awarded a $1,400.00 grant from Singing River Electric through the Neighbors Helping Neighbors Community Grant program. The grant will be used to purchase a structural testing instrument for the team’s upcoming bridge building competition. The Moss Point STEM Team also received two grants totaling $8,146.00 from Ingalls Shipbuilding through their STEM Grant program. The Ingalls STEM Grant program provides resources to educators for promoting an educational foundation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. These awards will be used to purchase robotics equipment for the STEM Applications program and for the team’s upcoming competition.

Pictured at left, from left to right: Yasmine Carter and Chris Smith



AWARDS feature

17 Mississippi FFA members received their American FFA Degree, the highest award bestowed by the National FFA Organization to its members. Only 3,745 FFA members nationwide received this award in 2013. Haley Bevels, Houston School of Science and Technology Kristen Bishop, Nettleton High School Jacob Clark, Lawrence County Technology and Career Center Logan Dale, Forrest County Agricultural High School Brad Denhem, West Lauderdale Attendance Center Noel Douzat, West Lauderdale Attendance Center John Holland, Sumrall High School Traylor Jackson, Lawrence County Technology and Career Center Erika Joyner, West Lauderdale Attendance Center Anna Beth Mayhugh, Lawrence County Technology and Career Center Kaitlin Polk, West Lauderdale Attendance Center Trey Powell, West Lauderdale Attendance Center April Strickland, Northeast Jones High School Aaron Tucker, Leake Central High School Shelby Walters, Northeast Jones High School Manda Ward, West Lauderdale Attendance Center Trever Winstead, West Lauderdale Attendance Center

The Mississippi FFA Association received National Recognition for an increase in FFA membership for 2013. The following Mississippi FFA Chapters received National Chapter Award Recognition: Houston FFA Mantachie FFA Neshoba Central FFA Lawrence County FFA Leake Central FFA

Spring 2014 CONNECTIONS 33

feature AWARDS

FFA Awards 2013 Results of National FFA Convention & Expo in Louisville, Kentucky, October 29 – November 1: Mississippi FFA National Career Development Events: 13 Bronze, 9 Silver, and 1 Gold Team 23 Silver Individual Rankings and 7 Gold Individual Rankings

Forestry Mantachie High School Individual Rankings: Tyler Graham (Gold) Blake Buchannan (Silver) Jakob Roberts (Silver) Will Reynolds (Silver)

Dairy Handlers Event Jessica Smith Pearl River Central High School Floriculture South Delta Vocational Center Individual Rankings: Shanterya Andrews (Silver) Teliyah Woods (Silver) Quaneshia Baker (Silver) Livestock Evaluation Newton County Career and Technical Center Individual Rankings: Will Gibson (Gold) Maddie Myers (Silver) Sammie Hand (Silver) Milk Quality Leake Central High School Individual Rankings: Jake Golden (Gold) Mark Golden (Gold) Penn Prater (Silver) Macee Rawson (Silver)



Poultry Evaluation Leake Central High School Individual Rankings: Candice Barrett (Silver) Nathan Burns (Silver) Hailey Clark (Silver) Aerial Green (Silver) Veterinary Science Millsaps Career and Technology Center, Starkville Sponsored by the Mississippi Veterinary Medical Association and Zoetis Individual Rankings: Jeremy Burt (Gold) Joshua Franz (Silver) Courtney Wilson (Silver) Nursery/Landscape Millsaps Career and Technology Center, Starkville Individual Rankings: Britton Walker (Gold) Mary Nicholson (Gold) Logan Bordelon (Silver)

AWARDS feature Agricultural Communications Covington County Vocational Center Sponsored by: Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board Agriculture Issues Forum South Delta Vocational Center Agriculture Technology and Mechanical Systems Oxford-Lafayette School of Applied Technology Individual Rankings: Mac Quarles (Silver) Tucker Dees (Silver) Agronomy Puckett Attendance Center National FFA Creed Speaking Karli Stringer, Sumrall High School Sponsored by Mississippi State University’s School of Human Sciences Horse Evaluation Puckett Attendance Center Individual Rankings: Hannah Barry (Silver) Job Interview Tristen Hanegan Covington County Vocational Center Prepared Public Speaking Jacey Johnson Oxford-Lafayette School of Applied Technology

Dairy Cattle Evaluation Kossuth High School Individual Rankings: John Andrews (Silver) Courtney Steele (Silver) Environmental and Natural Resources Millsaps Career and Technology Center, Starkville Individual Rankings: Sanci Borganelli (Silver) Extemporaneous Public Speaking Dillon Pittman Nettleton High School Farm Business Management Kossuth High School Individual Rankings: Kristen Jacobs (Silver) Terry Michaels (Silver) Food Science Purvis Attendance Center Individual Ranking: Britney Whidon (Silver) Meats Evaluation Florence High School Parliamentary Procedure Mantachie High School Sponsored by the Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board

CTE Teacher Award Winners and Accomplishments

Fred Jackson, Construction Instructor at the Alcorn Career and Technology Center since 2010, was selected as the Mississippi High School Craft Instructor of the Year for 2013. He was recognized at the Mississippi Associated Builders and Contractors Merit Awards Banquet in Jackson on November 1. Covington County Vocational Center’s Agriculture and Natural Resources program received a grant from Lowe’s Toolbox for Education to fund a greenhouse. The instructor is Brian Collins. Three Hancock County Career Technical Center teachers were awarded STEM grants from Ingalls Shipbuilding. Steve Ladner, $4,631 to purchase Vex Robotics Kits for Technology Student Association competitions Joel Myrick, $2,999 to purchase a 3D printer for Polymer Science Andy Perniciaro, $1,700 to purchase K’Nex Education Kits to investigate solar energy, wind energy, and water energy Ocean Springs Career and Technical Educational Center’s Construction Trades program received its national accreditation status through the National Center for Construction Education and Research to be an Accredited Training and Education Facility. The instructor is Ernie LeBatard. West Point Career and Technology Center’s Construction program received the Mississippi Associated Builders and Contractors Center of Excellence Award for 2013. The instructor is Scott Hudson. Spring 2014 CONNECTIONS 35

Research and Curriculum Unit PO Drawer DX Mississippi State University, MS 39762

Non-Profit Org Postage Paid Permit No. 81 39762

The Mississippi Department of Education Office of Career & Technical Education and Workforce Development does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age or disability in the provision of educational programs and services or employment opportunities and benefits. The following office has been designated to handle inquiries and complaints regarding the nondiscrimination policies of the Mississippi Department of Education: Director, Office of Human Resources, Mississippi Department of Education, 359 North West Street, Suite 203, Jackson, Mississippi 39201. 601.359.3511 Published by the Mississippi State University Research and Curriculum Unit

Connections Spring 2014  

Connections Spring 2014  

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