Superintendent's CornerDelesicia Martin, Ed.D.Greetings and welcome to the Superintendent’s Corner! In this special "corner" of our district website, I like to post regular blogs about all the great things happening in our school district. Through these posts, I hope you will identify ways you can join us in celebrating the success of our students and understand how you can be more involved in helping our students excel. I also encourage you to communicate with us via Twitter, Facebook, the Schoolway mobile app, and School messengerI invite you to check this corner regularly to see good news headlines and photos of positive events that highlight our efforts to provide an engaging and empowering environment that ensures excellence for our students!My best,Delesicia Martin
Friday, September 13, 2019: Helping Students Reach their Personal Summit
Every year, the Office of Community Relations hosts the Hinds County School District Teen Summit, an opportunity for high school students from across our district to build valuable leadership, communication, teamwork, and prevention skills outside the classroom. This event is only possible because we have tremendous support from community partners, including parents, nonprofit organizations, law enforcement professionals, and businesses, that are committed to helping us ensure our students receive an exceptional educational experience that effectively prepares them for college and careers. We are extremely grateful for the continued support of these partners and are excited about the new partnerships we will make this school year.
During the summit, students hear from a motivational keynote speaker and attend workshops on a variety of topics, including cyberbullying, distracted driving, and personal health, which help them build soft skills and understand how to navigate the world around them. We believe adding these experiences to a rigorous academic curriculum produces well-rounded students who can compete on a national and global scale. A 2015 report from Child Trends highlights research that suggests soft skills "rival academic or technical skills in their ability to predict employment and earnings" and "the demand for such skills has increased over the past 20 years." The National Network of Business and Industry Association notes that employers emphasize the need for candidates with a "strong academic grounding in reading and math" along with skills and abilities, such as "teamwork, problem solving, work ethic, and integrity."
One of our primary goals is to ensure every student graduates high school prepared for college and careers. Helping students build those soft skills are an important part of that preparedness. Activities like the Teen Summit a part of our robust efforts to offer students a mix of opportunities to learn from experts outside of the classroom and from their peers. For more information on the Teen Summit or to learn how you can support this event, call (601) 857-5222.
Friday, September 6, 2019: 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance
Every year at this time, we are reminded about the acts of heroism and courage on September 11, one of the most difficult days our country has seen in recent history. As we have many times before, we took this as an opportunity to come together and uphold our shared values and sense of community. Almost two decades have passed since that painful day, and our world and our communities have changed significantly.
What has not changed is the power of service and community. We place a high value on community service in Hinds County School District, and as we approach the anniversary we want to pay tribute to those who lost their lives by working "to rekindle the spirit of unity that arose after the attacks", as Alice Hoagland, a mother who lost her son on 9/11. I want to encourage our students, faculty, staff, parents, and community supporters to take this September 11 as an opportunity to serve in ways both large and small.
To find local volunteer opportunities, you can visit the 9/11 day website. I've also included some additional information, project ideas, and resources from the Corporation for National and Community Service below. For more information on volunteer opportunities within the district, contact your local school or send an email to John Neal, associate superintendent of community relations, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Every community has needs, large and small. September 11th and the surrounding days are opportunities to demonstrate your patriotism and make a commitment to address them by volunteering in honor of 9/11 and throughout the year.
- You can also create volunteer opportunities that represent personal causes. Lead a group to accomplish tasks that need a concentration of energy and people such as winterizing homes, or join a volunteer opportunity led by one of the thousands of organizations across the country recognizing this national day of service and remembrance
- Collect school supplies and deliver them to a local school (make sure to discover what they need first).
- Sign up to serve meals to those at risk of hunger.
- Work with a local food bank or pantry to collect donations.
- Sign up to be a mentor or tutor.
- Beautify a local park or community space – fall is a good time to plant trees and spring-blooming bulbs.
- Arrange a visit to a senior citizen center and join in their activities.
- Check with your local fire station and see if you can organize a fall clean up or serve them a meal.
- Arrange a visit to a veterans’ center and spend time with veterans or join an existing event. You can also check with the center to see if they need personal care items and launch a collection drive.
Friday, August 30, 2019: Attendance Awareness Month
Next month is Attendance Awareness Month, a nationwide recognition of the connection between school attendance and academic achievement. The goal of this month is to mobilize schools and communities to promote the value of good attendance and to take concrete steps toward reducing chronic absence. Improving student attendance is an essential, cost-effective strategy for ensuring student success and reducing achievement gaps. Across the nation, more than one in seven students is chronically absent, which means they are missing on average two or more days a month, or 10 percent or more of school days over the academic year.
Good attendance is essential to students short- and long-term success. Each absence represents a lost opportunity to learn in the classroom--time that sometimes can't be recovered. We recognize some absences are unavoidable, but many absences can be prevented by identifying and resolving barriers to attendance. We know students are more likely to attend school if they feel emotionally and physically safe, connected, supported, and believe they can learn and achieve. The culture of excellence we have been building is grounded in having caring and competent staff who are concerned about the well-being of the whole child.
Chronic absence is a problem we can solve when we work together as a community. Our first step is emphasizing the importance of school attendance and making sure children and families have the support they need to overcome any barriers to school attendance. If you want to join us in our efforts to increase student success by promoting good attendance, give us a call or drop by one of our schools to discuss ways you can partner with us.
Friday, August 23, 2019: Family Fun Month - Make Learning Fun
We believe learning can be fun, especially when families find ways to learn, explore, and reinforce the lessons children learn in school together. Family Fun Month is a great time to identify ways to show your children how fun learning can be and to learn new things together.
For new parents, Vroom has over 1,000 free activities that can help you add learning to mealtime, bathtime, bedtime, or anytime. UC Davis Integrative Medicine compiled a list of ways to celebrate Family Fun Month, and I've shared a few of those below along with ways to incorporate learning for the entire family. If you have other ways that you've integrated learning for the whole family, please share them us on our Facebook page.
- Visit a Museum: Discover a local museum and, after the visit, talk about what you saw together and what everyone liked best. The Mississippi Two Museums, Mississippi Art Museum, and Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center are a few great options for history, art, and culture that are just a short drive away.
- Enjoy a Movie Night: Another family get-together that everyone will love is to simply watch a movie. Pick an old favorite or something fresh. Make it a real screening, complete with air-popped popcorn! Netflix and PBS have some great documentaries about historical events and figures that your children may already be learning about in school.
- Cook Together: Spending time in the kitchen is one of my favorite ways to be with the family. You could enroll in a cooking class together or simply whip up a nutritious recipe at home, like our fun Make-Your-Own Tostadas! Cooking is a great way to practice mathematics by discussing measurements or history and culture if you explore cooking cuisines native to other countries.
Friday, August 16, 2019: Being Involved Begins with Being Prepared
Researcher and author Dr. James Comer once noted that "the purpose of school is not to raise test scores, but rather to prepare our young children to be successful in life. It starts with home life as early as possible.” There is a growing body of research that demonstrates the critical role parental involvement plays in student achievement, which is one of the many reasons we emphasize parent engagement and involvement at every stage of our students' learning, growth, and development.
The Waterford Institute cites research from the National Parent Teacher Association that indicates the best predictor of student success is the extent to which families encourage learning at home and involved themselves in their child's education. We understand that in order for parents to be involved, they must be prepared. That preparation starts with understanding what their children will be learning and how they can reinforce those lessons at home. The parent section of our website includes links to several important resources to help parents prepare for involvement in their child's education, including the 2019-2020 school calendar, Live Binder, and several other tools and resources.
These digital tools can help you stay abreast of what's happening, but I also invite and encourage you to become an active participant in your child's education. You can do that by attending events at your child's school when your schedule permits, reviewing school lessons with your child at home, or touching bases with your child's teacher or counselor or a regular basis.
One of the most important things you can do is to reinforce the importance of education at home. You should ensure your child is prepared for school each day, which starts with getting a good night's rest and eating a healthy breakfast (either at home or at school). As Dr. Comer explains in his quote, our shared purpose is to ensure our children are successful in life, and parental involvement is a significant contributor to that success. Studies show that students with engaged parents have better attendance, higher self-esteem, and higher graduation rates, which we know all contribute to success later in life.
We are here to be strong partners in your child's success now and in the future. If you have any questions or want to know other ways you can be engaged in your child's education, you can talk to your child's teacher, counselor, or principal or you can contact us at the Central Office at any time.
Wednesday, August 7, 2019: Welcome Back!
The summer months have seemed to race by, but the end of summer always marks the beginning of another year for us to progress on our journey to excellence. I hope your child’s experiences throughout the summer have helped them rest and refocus, so they can bring the full measure of their brilliance and creativity into each learning environment they enter this year. From the first day of school to the last, your involvement and investment in your child’s education will be one of the key factors to their success in the classroom and wherever their education may take them.
I understand work schedules can make it difficult to participate in every activity at your child’s school, but I encourage you to stay connected throughout the year. Whether you come to parent-teacher conferences or stay in touch with your child’s teacher via text messages, being up to date on what’s happening is an important way to monitor your child’s progress and provide any additional support they need to thrive. Our district website has several tools that will help you stay engaged throughout the school year and understand what your child is learning. In addition to all of the resources you'll find online, I've included a few other points we would like you to keep in mind as we start this new year.
- Be patient. The beginning of each new school year is full of activity, so we ask you to be patient with us as we work to make sure every child is set up for success early on. Throughout the year, you should also practice patience with your child. As they learn new concepts and settle in to their new routines, they may experience some slight ups and downs. Your support will help them stay on track for success.
- Be on time. It's essential for students to start school on time and to show up to school on time each day. Setting a regular schedule at home can help with this, including establishing times when technology is turned off and bedtime begins.
- Be aware. Safety remains our primary concern, so being aware of what's happening in your community is important. If you notice any concerning behavior or if your child shares any issues with you they may be experiencing at school, please contact a school administrator, counselor, or teacher immediately.
- Be prepared. Making sure your child is prepared for school each day is important, which includes having the necessary supplies and finding ways to reinforce learning at home. If you or someone you know needs any support obtaining school supplies, uniforms, or any other items a child needs to succeed, please contact our Office of Community Reations at (601) 857-7008.
Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa called education “the most powerful weapon … you can use to change the world.” I have no doubt we can change our communities, this state, and the world, if we work together to ensure our children have every tool they need to be successful. I look forward to another wonderful year as we take this journey toward excellence together.