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Connecting the education of today to the careers of tomorrow

Mississippi Department of Education Office of Career and Technical Eduation

In this issue

Polymer science program sets students up for future careers

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New Hope high school student earns CSWA certification

Pg. 6

Mississippi students gain STEM skills through NASA education program Pg. 10 Mississippi teacher brings STEM objectives to Washington Pg. 14 naval museum Mississippi educators are putting students on pathways to successful futures Pg. 18

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Polymer science program sets students up for future careers by Lisa Kröger, Ph.D. Working with the same cutting-edge technology that scientists are using to build Boeing 787 jets and Northrop Grumman destroyers is not the average experience for most high school students. But for teacher James Brownlow’s students, it is just another day in Polymer Science class. Polymer Science is one of the career pathways offered in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics career cluster. This pathway started out small, offered at only one school in Mississippi. Since Petal High School’s pilot program, the two-year class has expanded to nine schools, including Hattiesburg High School, where Brownlow has been teaching the Polymer Science curriculum for four years.

Mississippi schools offering Polymer Science: Petal High School Moss Point High School Carl Loftin Center, Columbia Alcorn County Schools Hattiesburg High School Pascagoula High School Hancock Schools Simpson County Schools Madison County Schools One reason Brownlow likes the program so much is the options it provides for his students’ futures. A student could use his or her knowledge to go directly into the workforce via an apprenticeship with one of the many industry connections established through the Polymer Science program, places like Boeing, Northrop Grumman, or NASA’s Stennis Space Center. A student is also set up for success at the postsecondary level, whether he or she chooses a community or junior college or a four-year university. Currently, Mississippi’s community colleges do not offer a polymer program, but Polymer Science students have used their interests to pursue similar programs, like nursing or X-ray technology. “Ours is a course that allows the kids to go lots of different paths,” said Brownlow, speaking of the many opportunities available to his students once they graduate. Page 2

With the University of Southern Mississippi nearby, many Hattiesburg polymer students choose to pursue a university degree, something Brownlow does his best to support. “Our college articulation agreement is becoming more lined up with what we’re doing,” Brownlow said, talking about how the Polymer Science program can prepare a student for university study. USM is offering students a chance to gain two to three hours of polymer electives before they enter into the program. “One of the things we’re most proud of with our kids is that my program, unlike some of the others in the state, so close to USM, [is] that my kids can actually go over in the afternoon and work for USM and do research with the grad students and get paid for that and get credit for doing research,” Brownlow said. A student worker can get as much as 12 hours of work each week during the semester, if they desire. When school is out, those workers can get even more time in the polymer science lab. “During the summer, when they are out of school, they can actually get 40 hours a week.” Two of his current students work at USM in polymer research, offering them a chance to both expand their education and make important connections for the future. “One of the really good things about them getting the opportunity to work over at USM is that by impressing those college professors, the college professors usually have grant money that they can give to the kids for their tuition and so forth, so they can pay for them to go to school,” Brownlow said of the connections his program can offer students and their futures. Futures that look bright, as student De’Andre Stafford-May sees it. “One thing that interested me was that [the program welcomes] minority students and it’s really not a field that a lot of people [are] used to [going] into. … I thought it would be a good job opportunity,” he said, referring to his initial interest in the program. A senior graduating in 2012, Stafford-May is confident that his future career will involve polymer science, even though he is not exactly sure what he wants to do with it. And it’s no wonder. Polymer science is an expansive field. Polymers are essentially plastics and other materials that are used in everything from cosmetics, coatings, fuel cells, composites, and so much more. Over the summer while working with USM under the advisement of Professor Sergei Nazarenko, Stafford-May worked on polymers used to make sports clothing, like the ones sold by companies such as Under Armour. His experiment involved working to make the material better and more affordable. Stafford-May couldn’t hide his excitement in discussing his work. “My favorite thing to do is to do the experiment,” he said, “to actually create the material that I’m working with.” USM’s polymer program has been instrumental in preparing high school students for future careers. Stafford-May learned of the program when a USM graduate student came to work with his Polymer Science class, as part of the Graduate STEM Fellows in K-12 Education (GK-12) program funded through the National Science Foundation. “We had a student come to Hattiesburg High and he told me about it,” Stafford-May explained. “So then, I thought, ‘That’s what I [want] to do.’ And I went for it.” Now he has a strong plan for his future. “I plan on possibly attending USM and doing the polymer program here,” Stafford-May said. “USM is [one of the] only schools that has an undergraduate

Building jet engines and war ships – it seems like imaginative child’s play, but this is play with a purpose. Brownlow’s aim is to place the act of learning directly in the students’ hands, getting them excited about the subject and their futures. Page 3

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polymer science program. Here they are going to help me to get as [many] scholarships and money as possible that I would need.” After completing an undergraduate degree, Stafford-May wants to go on to graduate school, where he can then encourage high school students to pursue a similar path. Stafford-May has strong models to follow as he embarks on his college career. Two of Brownlow’s former students, both college freshmen, are seeing success in USM’s polymer program. O’Meshia Moffett is being honored with a research award; her portrait is going to hang in the USM polymer building. Another student, Hannah Brown, is being credited in a published article. Brownlow cannot hide his pride when discussing these success stories. “Not too many entering freshmen get to say they have been published,” he said, speaking of Brown. What makes the Polymer Science program work so well? What makes these students strive to succeed? In part, the answer may be found in the way the polymer classroom is structured. Where traditional classrooms focus the attention on the teacher through lecture-style learning methods, teachers like Brownlow take a constructivist approach to their teaching. This teaching style places the focus on the students, who are actively engaged in the classroom. The Polymer Science pathway achieves this through hands-on activities that encourage students to apply what they’ve learned to the experiments they do in class. In one of Brownlow’s labs, his students are getting to learn about composites—the same technology that is being used by Boeing to create the new 787 jets. The new composite coating can make a piece of balsa wood nearly unbreakable, as the students learned in their experiment. Brownlow explained that this technology is considered cutting edge in industry today: “Not only are they using the composite in Boeing aircrafts, but they also use it STUDENT down at Northrop Grumman. [It can be found in] some of the composite units that they put on those new smaller class destroyers that they’re doing. The tower itself, all of the above deck part of the ship is completely done in composite. And Mock interviews teach high school some of those panels are $4-8 million panels, and so the kids working here are working on similar students how to dress for success things to what they are doing there.”


Future Business Leaders of America

Mississippi students in the Future Business Leaders of America attended the 2011 FBLA National Leadership Conference in Orlando, Fla. The chapter at Prentiss County Vocational Center received a Gold Seal Chapter of Merit Award. The following students received special recognition:

• • •

Debbie Griffin, Local Advisor of the Year (Northeast Jones High School) Zach Newton, Who’s Who (Picayune Career Center) Mollie McKay, 3rd place in Job Interview (Philadelphia High School)

The Mississippi FBLA also participated in the Phi Beta Lambda portion of the Orlando conference. Charlotte Overby, of the Itawamba Community College Tupelo campus, was named Mississippi Local Advisor of the Year. East Central Community College took home 5th place in the Local Annual Business Report event. The following students also received special recognition: • Zachery Gibbs and Bryan Wiseman, 1st place in Network Design (East Central Community College) • Michael Tripi, 2nd place in Information Management (Meridian Community College) • Jimmy Anderson, Roger Cloward and Sara Noullet, 6th place in Website Design (Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Perkinston) • Terry Collum, 7th place in Cyber Security (Meridian Community College) • Kelcey McLemore, 9th place in Economic Analysis and Decision Making (Copiah–Lincoln Community College, Wesson) • Bruce Mapp, 9th place in Market Analysis and Decision Making (University of Mississippi-Tupelo) • Zach Fetcko and Caleb Stewart, 10th place in Business Decision Making (Copiah–Lincoln Community College, Wesson) • Kanisha Patterson, 10th place in Future Business Teacher (Mississippi State University) • Jimmie Anderson, 10th place in Help Desk (Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Perkinston)

Building jet engines and war ships – it seems like imaginative child’s play, but this is play with a purpose. Brownlow’s aim is to place the act of learning directly in the students’ hands, getting them excited about the subject and their futures. “We are extremely proud of the program so far,” Brownlow said.

Deidre Bland, teacher at Meridian’s Ross Collins Career and Technical Center, knows that adequate preparation and practice can help her students rise to the top and get desirable positions when they go on the job market. To help her students prepare, she arranged for local community members and business owners to perform mock interviews with her students. Students were required to demonstrate professionalism on all accounts just like they would in an actual interview. Page 4

And Brownlow has good reason to be proud. After all, two of his students are excelling in their college education, and two more are already working toward building a strong research portfolio for their college applications. It is an exciting time for Polymer Science students, who can use their education to take them nearly anywhere they want to go. For more information about the Polymer Science curriculum or any of the other career pathways, please contact the Research and Curriculum Unit at or by calling 662.325.2510.

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New Hope high school student earns CSWA certification by Kristen Dechert When David Newton, a junior at New Hope High School, graduates in 2013, he will already be ahead of many engineering students at community colleges and universities around the state. In addition to his regular school work, Newton found time this past year to become a Certified SolidWorks Associate, a designation typically attained by college students and professionals in engineering fields. SolidWorks certification gives Newton a wide range of career opportunities in the fields of manufacturing, product development, engineering services, equipment design, heating, ventilation and air conditioning and piping, oil and gas, industrial machinery and more. Twenty-first century companies require competitive engineering capabilities, and Newton’s early certification helps him stand out to industry job hunters.

“I found [SolidWorks] interesting, and since my dad works with SolidWorks at his job, he encouraged me to take the exam.”

This CD contained a number of SolidWorks tutorials that Newton completed. “I could say I prepared for [the certification test] a whole school year because that’s how long it took me to complete the tutorials,” said Newton. Much of the work Newton did at home was relevant to class work in Browning’s Technology Applications course. Using the SolidWorks platform, Newton and other students in the class “were allowed to freelance by designing their own projects and printing some of them in class,” said Browning. Some of the objects designed were full-scale yo-yos, name plates and model cars with individual parts. “Anything the students chose to draw was scaled down and printed using the 3-D printer,” Browning said. Having students like Newton is a boon for Mississippi. Regardless of their future goals, students capable of becoming CSWA certified gain skills that are valuable in high school, college and the workplace. Browning said, “The benefits [of CSWA certification to a high school student] are that the student is able to read highly technical information … and is highly capable of comprehending what he has read and apply it to some type of engineering concept.” Browning went on to explain that “[SolidWorks] causes the student to use the creative and synthesis functions of cognitive learning more so than a normal program of study.” Graduating students with these capabilities can improve postsecondary education and industry statewide.


Meridian High School seniors job shadow in their fields of interest


While taking Deidre Bland’s Career Pathways Experience course at Ross Collins Career and Technical Center, Aubrey Williams job shadowed Justin Cobb, an area attorney, to learn about a career in law. After graduating from high school and college, Williams hopes to attend law school and become a practicing lawyer. Also a student in Bland’s CPE course, David Hughes shadowed Dr. Sonny Rush, an orthopedic surgeon in the area. Hughes was able to shadow Rush on clinic and surgery days. After he finishes his schooling, Hughes hopes to become a physical therapist. Another of Bland’s students, Lesslie Evans hopes to become a pediatrician one day. To learn about the pediatric medical field, Evans shadowed Dr. Britt McCarty, a pediatric dentist in Meridian.

CSWA certification gives Newton an edge on college students as well. When he begins his university studies in engineering, he will already be familiar with SolidWorks and prepared for the classes that utilize it for modeling and simulation. Using his CSWA status, he will also be qualified to work in the field while in college. When asked why he wanted to earn the certification, Newton replied, “I found [SolidWorks] interesting, and since my dad works with SolidWorks at his job, he encouraged me to take the exam.” Newton was introduced to SolidWorks software in his Technology Applications course, taught by Danny Browning. In this course, Browning taught Newton and the other students SolidWorks basics that helped Newton in his preparation for the certification exam. Browning may have introduced Newton to the program, but Newton completed the certification work all on his own. “David was given a CD that contained the student version that could be installed on his home computer,” said Browning. Page 6

Newton plans to attend the University of Alabama to study electrical and computer engineering or entrepreneurship. He said, “[CSWA certification] gives me a head start of what I will be doing in real-life engineering. It also gives me many job opportunities and scholarships.” Browning said, “[CSWA] certification and the two higher levels are a must when entering the field of engineering because all engineering studies require detailed analysis of any system that is designed or invented by the engineer.” With the first level under his belt, Newton is well on his way to success in an engineering field, but he isn’t ready to stop Page 7 just yet.


He is already preparing for the next level of certification to become a Certified SolidWorks Professional. Passing the second level of certification will prove Newton’s advanced knowledge of the platform and his ability to use more complex SolidWorks features to design and analyze parts and mechanisms. SolidWorks certification isn’t just for college-bound students. These certifications, along with adequate coursework in high school, prepare students for direct entry into the workforce as well. By having SolidWorks-certified workers at all levels, Mississippi industry can become more competitive nationally and globally. SolidWorks is a 3-D computer-aided design platform used for modeling various engineering products. According to the most recent 2011 SolidWorks Fact Sheet, the company has over 1.5 million customers from over 148,000 companies worldwide. To measure levels of competency in its programs, Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp. offers its customers a number of certification options in three levels: associate, professional and expert. Newton has completed the first level. Knowing the importance of SolidWorks certification, Browning said, “I am always encouraging my students to broaden their horizons by including this exam process in their school schedule,” and this encouragement is paying off. Another of Browning’s students has indicated plans to take the CSWA exam this year.

“The benefits are that the student is able to read highly technical information … and is highly capable of comprehending what he has read and apply it to some type of engineering concept.”

Future Farmers of America

The Mississippi Future Farmers of America attended the 2011 State Fair Livestock Judging Contest held at the Fordice Equine Center at the Mississippi State Fairgrounds on October 8, 2011. Several FFA chapters took home top honors: •

In the Junior Division, the Pisgah Junior FFA Chapter, advised by Brent Hammonds, took home 1st, 2nd and 3rd places. Congratulations to the following team members: Brantley Nations, Jimmy Shedd, Weston Bowman and John Avery Prestage, who took home first; Nick Williams, Matthew Warren, Parker Kelly and Ashley Kennedy, who took second; and Angela McCurdy, Britney Shoemaker, Megan Crow and Calleigh Parker, who took third.

In the Senior Division, Michael West led his Wayne County FFA students to first place. Congratulations to Rachel Reynolds, Justin Hutto, Allen Waller and McKensie Chancellor. West also led a team consisting of students Jace Gardner, Taylor McCary, Alora Landrum and Desirae Sumrall to 2nd place. The Pine Grove FFA team, made up of members Kayla Mauney, Evan Yancey and Bruce Miller, took 3rd place.

In the Collegiate Division, Thomas Wagnon, Kelly Dukes, Kinsley Kirkland and Cole Rogers from Jones County Junior College took 1st-place honors, while Brett Caldecott, Alex Glass and Chase Johnson of Hinds Community College came in second.

“Learning SolidWorks is not a casual undertaking but rather a very tedious one,” said Browning. “It is an indicator that the student is capable of focusing in on the learning process,” he continued. When students are willing to take on challenging tasks like this one and teachers are committed to their success, everyone reaps the rewards. Students will go on to college or jobs in their desired fields; teachers have satisfaction at watching their students succeed; and Mississippi gains valuable workers for its industries.


Career Pathway Experience students compete in safety poster contest


Students in Debbie Brumfield’s Career Pathway Experience class at the Carl Loftin Career and Technology Center began the school year focusing on safety. Students created posters using various safety topics that related to their workplaces, schools or homes. Page 8

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Mississippi students gain STEM skills through NASA education program by Kristen Dechert From polymer science to technology applications, Mississippi Career and Technical Education classes are helping students reach new heights, and the National Aeronautics Space Administration has developed an education program that is helping them get there. By participating in High Schools United with NASA to Create Hardware, or HUNCH, students across Mississippi are working on products at the design, fabrication and prototyping phases. HUNCH students work with engineers to develop real products in real time. In addition to what they learn in CTE classes, these students are gaining invaluable skills, ensuring they are college and career ready. Since 2009, several Mississippi high schools, including New Albany, Petal, Gulfport "Our goals for CTE and East Central (Jackson County), and Hancock County Vocational and Technical School have participated in HUNCH. are that we prepare

further Latrina Bynum, teacher at New Albany High School, has had 30 students students for participate in HUNCH over the last two years. Students were recommended by education and the teachers and selected based on strengths in math, drafting, reasoning, leadership and workforce, and presentation skills. “Since this was a special opportunity for the students, we chose [HUNCH] absolutely students for varied abilities,” said Bynum. HUNCH students use skills learned in their Career and Technical Education and fits that goal."

academic courses to answer a question or address a situation assigned to them by NASA. For the past two years, projects have focused on the Ares launch vehicle, a rocket in NASA’s former Constellation Program.

"The first year, [New Albany students] worked on designing a lattice or grid work for the inside of the Ares-J2 rocket that would help provide strength,” said Bynum. They were given a set of rocket plans that “gave the students the parameters and some specs with which to work using their skills in drafting, engineering, digital media, math and science,” she added. The students’ data and designs were printed in 3-D and converted to a visual form for presentation at the recognition ceremony at NASA’s Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala. Last year, New Albany students developed ideas for a support structure that could hold construction workers while they installed various components inside the rocket system. Bynum said the second year was “so successful that our NASA engineer wanted to push our design through to NASA.” Page 10

For Bynum, HUNCH teaches students valuable 21st-century workplace skills. “By being part of a team working to solve a specific problem for a high-stakes organization, the students learn the true value of team work,” she said. “Getting together and brainstorming to find solutions, learning to listen to what someone else has to say and even blending two or more ideas for the common good of the project helped them get a leg up on other students,” she added. HUNCH is not only a good experience for students; it aligns with state and national goals for increasing student participation in STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and math. “The HUNCH program allows students the opportunity to see how it is done in the real world. They learn how to start with a problem, develop a concept and work through it systematically to a conclusion,” said Bynum. Teacher Krystin Holmes of Petal High School agreed. She said, “Our goals for CTE are that we prepare students for further education and the workforce, and [HUNCH] absolutely fits that goal.” Any student in the second-year polymer science class who is committed to working on the project can participate, said Holmes. In the first year, Petal students used NASA sketches to create images of the vehicle housing and internal support structures using SolidWorks and SolidEdge computer-aided design software. After drafting, students used the 3-D printer to create models of the parts. In the second year, students focused on the vehicle’s interior. “In creating storage compartments for the unit, they modeled both the housing and the mounting brackets for the parts,” said Holmes. High schools across the country know that by improving the 3 R’s – Rigor, Relevance and Relationships – students are better prepared for college and careers. Projects like HUNCH support the 3 R’s. Holmes said, “Sometimes it’s hard


Exciting accomplishments for JCTC students


In the past two years, Jackson County Technology Center has had 14 students pass the CompTIA A+ certification, a test that validates foundation-level knowledge and skills necessary for a career in personal computer support. This certification is international and vendorneutral, and a person who receives A+ proves that he or she is competent in many computer areas, including preventative maintenance, installation, networking, troubleshooting and security. An A+-certified person is prepared for a variety of job roles, such as field service technician, PC or support technician, enterprise technician and IT administrator. JCTC students were prepared for the certification test by Ricky Corker, a teacher of 34 years who regularly engages his students in technology projects. Wanting to help his students financially, Corker earned the money to pay for their CompTIA A+ testing through his technology training in other districts, a sacrifice they will no doubt remember for years to come. In addition to these 14 students, Corker had two others complete the advanced Network+ certification at the end of the 2010-2011 school year. for students to see how something they learn in school might be useful in the real world, and [HUNCH] is a prime example of how design and modeling can be used.” Holmes explained that the program helps students determine their levels of interest in STEM careers. “The project helps them see if [STEM] is a direction they want to pursue,” she said. “If it is, it is a great experience, and they make Page 11 some good contacts in an engineering field.”


Started in 2003, HUNCH has student teams across the country collaborating with Johnson, Stennis and Marshall Space Centers. The project typically runs from October through April. NASA personnel visit the schools early on to deliver materials and discuss assignments; the students work on the projects until early spring; and the program concludes with a recognition ceremony in April. At this ceremony, teams present their projects to NASA personnel and get a chance to see the work of other teams. Selection is competitive and based on a comprehensive proposal submitted by the school. If selected, the school can be invited back for up to three years before having to reapply. Mississippi schools participating in the 2011-2012 year include Hancock County Vocational Center, Gulfport Technical Center, New Albany Vocational Center and East Central High School (Jackson County). They will join teams across the country and work on projects related to payload hardware for the International Space Station. Anna Alexander, student and HUNCH project manager at Gulfport High School, is excited about the preparation HUNCH provides. “It is a great way to gain experience in the engineering field and provides a stable connection with adults already in the field,” she said. Andy Gunkel, Alexander’s engineering teacher at Gulfport, concurs. “The ability to see how an engineer or industry professional resolves a problem is a valuable lesson for students,” said Gunkel. Alexander’s future plans are to study engineering at the university level, and she is considering a major in aerospace engineering. “[HUNCH] gives me a competitive edge, as far as qualifications go, for selective engineering colleges,” said Alexander. “I’ve noticed among my team that [HUNCH participation] gives them a greater confidence in their abilities, something every student can benefit from,” she continued. To those who might be nervous or unsure about participating, “Jump right in!” says Alexander. “There’s something for everyone and every skill set is welcome. It truly is a golden opportunity.”

The second year was "so successful that our NASA engineer wanted to push our design through to NASA."

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Not only does HUNCH provide unparalleled experiences for students, but it provides state-of-the-art equipment for schools as well. Bynum said “[New Albany students] have the chance to use technology that our school could never afford, such as a 3-D prototyper [3-D printer].” NASA provides the equipment, software and other materials needed to properly work on the project. Creating relevance is one of the most important characteristics of HUNCH. “[Students] now know how their education and skills play a part in what they and their country can do scientifically and technologically [and how] that can impact this country economically,” said Bynum. The skills and knowledge gained in CTE and academic classes and the HUNCH experiences will help students contribute to 21st-century industry. No matter their eventual career field, these students will succeed.


In their mission to prepare future leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management, two of Mississippi’s DECA chapters received awards for outstanding work. Columbia Academy, led by Roxanne Wallace, was honored as Diamond Level for the 2010-2011 Membership Campaign. Columbia Academy also had the distinction of being the largest chapter for Mississippi in 2010-2011. Tammie Brewer, advisor for HCC Rankin Marketing, was also honored as Diamond in the 2010-2011 Membership Campaign. Mississippi DECA students also participated in the International Economic Summit, held in Clinton, Miss., in April 2011. All three teams from Itawamba Agricultural High School, led by their Marketing teacher, Sandy Prestage, won first in their divisions: • Am Jaborisut, Johnna Wilson, Kaitlin Oswalt, Maggie Martin and Cody Morris won Top High Income Country (Japan) • Hayden Crider, Weaver Brown, Deaven Tomlin and Brittany Francis won Top Middle Income Country (Mexico) • Christina Malik, Lauren Lucas, Harlie Bennett, Makenzie Snipes and Sydney Ware won Top Low Income Country (India) The Perry County Vocational Technical Center DECA students Rebecca Bunch, Trey Creel, Cortez Smith and Meagan Watkins participated in the Person Finance Challenge online and placed 2nd in their district. For their accomplishment, they were invited to a reception in Jackson, Miss., and each received a $50 check. In February 2011, the Hinds Community College Rankin DECA Cooperative Education chapter and the Pearl/ Rankin Career and Technical Center earned top spots at district and advanced to compete at the Mississippi Collegiate DECA Career Development Conference in Natchez, Miss. Five out of eight participants took top honors in the state, qualifying them to compete at the DECA International Career Development Conference in Orlando, Fla.:

Lorenzo Jordan, 2nd place in Automotive Services Marketing (Northwest Rankin

High School) • Allison McCue, 2nd place in Retail Merchandising Services (Richland High School) • Garrett Morris*, 2nd place in Apparel/Accessories Marketing (Richland High School) • Sara Ostrander, 4th place in Restaurant/Food Service Marketing (Pearl High School) • Abby Delaney, 6th place in Quick Serve Restaurant Services (Richland High School) *Garrett Morris also was awarded special honors for placing in the 30th percentile in the world at ICDC in his event.

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Mississippi teacher brings STEM to Washington naval museum by Lisa Kröger, Ph.D. Through the Pathways to Success initiative, the Research and Curriculum Unit and the Mississippi Department of Education have been working together to promote education in our state in order to prepare students to work in the global economy. One of the 16 Career Clusters offered is the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics cluster, or STEM as it is more widely known. In many regards, Mississippi is leading the way in our country’s education through our state’s emphasis on the STEM subjects, a topic that has been at the forefront of our national discussion about education. In November 2009, President Obama announced the “Educate to Innovate” campaign, developed to promote the STEM subjects in U.S. schools. One Crawford has learned that making Career and of those efforts to promote the STEM objectives comes from the Technical Education as interactive as U.S. Navy Museum in possible really makes a difference in how Washington, D.C. The Naval students learn. With help from the MDE, Historical Foundation’s STEM Teacher Fellowship Program Crawford has already been able to bring brought eight STEM teachers technology, such as 3-D design programs and from across the country to the iPads, into her STEM lab. capital to produce web-based lesson plans for the museum’s Covert Submarine Operations exhibit, part of the new Cold War Gallery.

science, technology and engineering.” Those lesson plans revolved around submarine-related topics, including everything from cruise and ballistic missiles to nuclear propulsion and attack submarine operations. Crawford called the experience “so much fun” even though she and the other teachers “worked the whole time.” Her itinerary while in Washington included an intense work schedule, which kept her busy from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. During those two weeks, even her weekends were full of related activities, leaving her not a lot of free time. Still, Crawford wouldn’t have changed a thing. When asked if she would do it all over again, Crawford answered, “In a heartbeat.” One of the Saturday activities included a tour of a fast attack nuclear submarine at the Norfolk Naval Base in Norfolk, Va. The goal of the tour, according to the museum, was to help the “teachers to tie together the submarine tutorials, Cold War submarine exhibits and their inspirations for STEM lessons, by seeing the combined submarine systems integrated within a submarine hull.” Crawford, who doesn’t consider herself a history buff said, “There was so much I didn’t know,” adding that the tour and the tie into the STEM initiative helped her immensely in understanding the complex military lessons. By the end of her 14-day stay, Crawford had developed two to three lesson plans that the museum could use for the Covert Submarine Operations exhibit. The lesson plans, designed to be posted on the Internet, are available so that teachers everywhere can access them. As of press time, one of Crawford’s lessons, titled “Scaling the Submarines,” had already been posted to the museum’s website. Its goal is to teach students about the different submarines employed during the Cold War by engaging them in research.


FCCLA group teams with local schools to promote healthy living


Family, Career and Community Leaders of America members will coordinate Fuel Up to Play 60 activities at Center Hill High School and Overpark Elementary School, located in Olive Branch, Miss. Healthy eating and active living are the themes of this program sponsored by the National Football League and the National Dairy Council. Over $2,600 of grant funding was awarded to the FCCLA to conduct a variety of school-wide activities designed to educate students and adults about ways to stay healthy. This group hopes to help lower the child and adult obesity rates in Mississippi. Planned activities include photo contests, trivia games, healthy food demonstrations, taste testing and recipe contests. The FCCLA members will lead the activities, and the school TV team will play an important role in taping and publicizing the events. As FCCLA members become experts on nutrition and fitness, they polish their leadership skills and learn healthy lifelong habits.

Mississippi teacher Rhonda Crawford, of Oak Grove High School in Hattiesburg, Miss., was thrilled to learn that she was one of eight teachers in the country selected to write curriculum and travel to the nation’s capital. For two weeks, Crawford worked on a team with three other teachers developing what the museum called “innovative plans tied to common core and state standards for algebra, geometry, statistics, biology, chemistry, environmental Page 14

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One of the Saturday activities included a tour of a fast attack nuclear submarine at the Norfolk Naval Base in Norfolk, Va.


Technology Student Association

The Mississippi Technology Student Association attended the 2011 National TSA Conference at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, Texas. The Mississippi TSA had 12 schools and 159 students, advisers and parents to attend. In addition, the Mississippi TSA placed in the top 10 in six events: • Jessica Simmerman, 2nd place in Flight (Batesville Junior High School) • Dimaya Randle, 5th place in Prepared Speech (Jefferson County Junior High School) • LaJasmine Jackson and Trevor Banks, 10th place in Techno Talk (Senatobia Junior High School) • Anthony Pfau, 6th place in Computer-Aided Design, Architecture (Madison Career and Technical Center) • Terrell Breakfield, 8th place in Flight Endurance (Brookhaven Technical Center) • Joshua Bowman, 10th place in Flight Endurance (Brookhaven Technical Center)

Crawford developed two to three lesson plans that the museum could use for the Covert Submarine Operations exhibit. Of course, these lesson plans are about more than just history. The students will create a 3-D model of an assigned submarine using computer technology, such as SolidWorks or Google SketchUp, though graph paper would be sufficient as well for completing the assignment. Once a drawing is created, the students will build a scaled model of the submarine. Crawford says she has not received any feedback from teachers who have used the lesson plan yet, but she did a similar activity with her own students. In her classroom, students were asked to design a missile in a lesson called “Mission Missile,” which involved teamwork as well as math, science and technology skills. “They had a great time with it,” she said. It is classroom activities like this that Crawford is hoping will inspire students to learn, as well as increase science and math scores. She has learned that making Career and Technical Education as interactive as possible really makes a difference in how students learn. With help from the MDE, Crawford has already been able to bring technology, such as 3-D design programs and iPads, into her STEM lab. All of this creates a unique learning environment for Mississippi CTE students, encouraging them to learn, as well as setting them up for a bright future. To learn about the Cold War Gallery or to download the lesson plans, please visit the U.S. Navy Museum’s website at Please contact the Research and Curriculum Unit at or 662.325.2510 for more information about the STEM Career Cluster. Page 16

Health Occupations Students of America The Mississippi Health Occupations Students of America had 100 students and advisors attend the Fall Leadership Conference held at Ridgeland High School in Ridgeland, Miss., on November 5, 2011. HOSA also hosted 477 students and advisors at the Fall Leadership Conference held at Gulfport High School in Gulfport, Miss., on November 12, 2011. Congratulations to Northeast Lauderdale High School in Meridian, Miss., who won HOSA’s T-Shirt Design award, and to the Lapel Pin Design winner, Lamar County Center for Technical Education in Purvis, Miss. Page 17

Mississippi educators are putting students on pathways to successful futures

Using the 16 National Career Clusters, the MDE and the RCU developed specific pathways that fit Mississippi’s industry needs. Clusters range from Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources to Marketing to Education and Training, with a variety of pathways in any given cluster. Students may show an interest in a general field, or cluster, or in a specific career, or pathway.

To be college and career ready in the 21st century, Mississippi students will have to start thinking about their futures earlier than ever.

“Pathways to Success helps students learn what they don’t want to do just as much as it helps them discover what they do want to do,” said Massey. “If in the eighth grade a student decides to build an iCAP focused on nursing but after taking a course in anatomy and physiology in high school is no longer interested in that field, the student can work with a counselor to update the iCAP to better fit his or her current interests.”

by Kristen Dechert

Pathways to Success, a Mississippi Department of Education initiative supported by the Mississippi State University Research and Curriculum Unit, aims to get students considering their career goals and postsecondary plans in elementary and middle schools. By the end of eighth grade, all Mississippi students will have an individual Career and Academic Plan, or iCAP, in place to assist in planning their courses for high school. “The iCAP planning process is a roadmap to help students identify career choices and select the appropriate postsecondary option to help them reach their career goals, said Jean Massey, associate superintendent of the MDE. To prepare for statewide implementation in the spring of 2012, the MDE hosted regional training meetings around the state. This fall, 20 training sessions were hosted with over 900 participants from 135 school districts attending. Over the course of two days, MDE and RCU personnel gave districts an overview of Pathways to Success, including the postsecondary planning options the program provides students and a number of resources to help districts begin implementing the program in their schools. “We wanted [participants] to understand that there are options to get every single student graduated to a successful future,” said Marilyn Bowen, Professional Learning Center manager at the RCU. Massey agreed. “We have to make high school relevant to career choices,” she said. One key to demonstrating this relevance is by utilizing both CTE and academic classes to help students develop iCAPs and future plans.

“Through teacher mentoring and parent support, Pathways to Success will help students envision the future and to make decisions that turn the vision into reality.”

Rather than using a checklist of specific classes needed to graduate or to be college bound, Pathways to Success makes course selection fit a student’s future goals. “Instead of just focusing on students getting their four English credits, four math, and so on, Pathways to Success gets counselors to say, ‘Let’s talk about

what you want to do after high school, what postsecondary avenue you want to choose, and then work backwards to make sure the classes you take in high school help prepare you,’” said Betsey Smith, curriculum manager at the RCU. Page 18

Mississippi has one of the highest rates in the country of high school graduates going on to postsecondary programs, but only about three out of ten complete these programs because too many are having to be remediated or have deficiencies, said Massey. “We have to break the cycle. We have to help students see the relevance of what they are learning to their future goals, so they retain more from high school and take classes that apply to those goals,” she added.

Many training participants embraced this career-exploration approach to Pathways to Success. At one training session in Starkville, Miss., the over 100 participants were asked to share their views on using the program to help students achieve. One participant said, “We need to get students to realize that what you do in school affects your career and that your career affects your lifestyle.” Another participant noted the importance of parental involvement. “We need to make “Students sure that parents know what ready, not information and options are available to their children and are involved in the choices their children make,” she said.

need to be college and career just college bound.”

Massey also sees parents as a key to student success. “We all want our kids to go to college,” she said. “But parents need to realize it isn’t just about going to college but about getting students to think, ‘Where am I going and what do I need to do to get there?’” A final comment from an attendee summed up the goal of Pathways to Success best: “Students need to be college and career ready, not just college bound.” At the heart of Pathways to Success are Mississippi students, but the program also benefits the state. While teachers and counselors are helping students take classes that meet their needs, they also are preparing students to meet the needs of Mississippi industry. Graduating better prepared students means they can enter the workforce or go on to postsecondary programs more equipped to take on challenges in their fields. Bowen sees this initiative as a way to demonstrate to industries that Mississippi has a commitment to career preparation. “If an industry can see that students are being prepared as 21st-century learners, it may decide to locate here, bringing in jobs and revenue to the state,” she said. Page 19

Massey expects Pathways to Success to be fully implemented and running successfully within the next four years. “We will make plans and changes over the next few years as we watch the first group of eighth graders go through the initiative,” she said. Districts will have options in deciding how to make Pathways to Success work for their students. “No district will look the same,” said Smith. “All will have flexibility to use the iCAP process to meet their needs and the needs of their students.” Each school district will identify how it can best implement Pathways to Success. To assist districts as they implement the initiative, future professional-learning opportunities will be offered. “Counselors, teachers, administrators, parents and students themselves form the coalition that can guide the choices students make to ensure a successful future,” said Lynn House, deputy state superintendent for Mississippi. Using the whole-school approach, Pathways to Success will help each student graduate from high school with a plan of action for the future, and it will provide a knowledgeable and skilled workforce statewide. Smith said, “Pathways to Success is just a conversation, just a way to talk to students about their futures.” Maybe so, but what begins as a conversation in elementary school and becomes a plan in the eighth grade and is revised throughout high school will result in a promising future for high school graduates and Mississippi’s economy.


Nettleton FFA students grow food for the community


Nettleton High School, in Nettleton Miss., received a Land O’Lakes Foundation grant to develop an Answer Plot Community Garden in the area. Over the summer, the Nettleton FFA students harvested hundreds of pounds of corn and peas on the one-acre plot. These vegetables were served in the soup kitchen line at a local shelter and donated to the Tupelo Salvation Army’s food pantry. According to the foundation’s website, Answer Plot gardens are “part of an ongoing effort to help alleviate hunger in rural communities.” Currently, there are six gardens around the country with Nettleton being the only Mississippi location. The foundation provides necessary equipment, including planting guides, seeds and a camera to document the garden’s progress, and the FFA club provides labor in the form of tilling, planting, weeding and harvesting. The Nettleton students were so affected by a visit to the Salvation Army food pantry that they have begun volunteering there in addition to their garden harvesting.

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Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America

The Mississippi Family, Career and Community Leaders of America attended the FCCLA 66th Annual National Leadership Meeting in Anaheim, Calif., on July 10-14 of this year. The following students were recognized as winners at the national convention: Poplarville High School CTC • Deanairio Bolton, Gold in Career Investigation • Skylor Shamp, Gold in Job Interview • Adrienno Alonzo, Bronze in Chapter Service Project Display • Alexis Seal, Bronze in Chapter Service Project Display • Nikki Seal, Bronze in Chapter Service Project Display • Cortney Ladner, Bronze in National Program in Action Newton County CTC • Cece Hillman, Silver in Life Event Planning • Alli Rawson, Silver in Life Event Planning • Madison Herrington, Silver in Life Event Planning Winona County CTC • Maria Rodriguez, Silver in Culinary Arts • Kadyesha Stovall, Silver in Culinary Arts • Quintena Basken, Silver in Culinary Arts Carl Keen Vocational Center • Venai Brown, Bronze in Illustrated Talk • Miracle Williams, Bronze in Illustrated Talk • Chelcy Gillie, Bronze in Chapter Showcase Display • Martha Jordan, Bronze in Chapter Showcase Display • Elissa McCool, Bronze in Chapter Showcase Display

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The Mississippi Department of Education’s 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

MDE Connections Fall 2011  

Fall Mississippi Department of Education Newsletter.

MDE Connections Fall 2011  

Fall Mississippi Department of Education Newsletter.

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