ABOUT THE LATEST ISSUE
What a difference a year makes.
The close of the 2019-2020 academic year was unlike anything most of us have ever experienced. Students graduated either virtually or in socially distanced, outdoor settings. Educators left these ceremonies not knowing what learning would look like in the upcoming year.
Twelve months later, our students again graduated in controlled settings, but we now see a path forward for career and technical education (CTE) due to the hard work and commitment of all involved, from the faculty and students who put in the work to ensure the two-way process of education never faltered to the parents who refused to let their children’s futures be affected by current challenges.
I am so proud of how Mississippi’s educators rose to the occasion this year and navigated positive student outcomes through uncharted territory and rapidly evolving conditions. From translating automotive classes’ hands-on instruction to virtual learning environments to ensuring your classrooms would be as safe as possible for everyone, our teachers are the reason so many positive things came out of this year. Your dedication makes us at the Mississippi Department of Education excited for the years to come.
This issue of Connections features that dedication and those positive student outcomes. We feature Debbie Miller, the MS ACTE Teacher of the Year who uses her culinary passion to inspire her students, and Tony Holder and Tracy Hardy, the MS ACTE Administrator and Counselor of the Year who together share decades of service to their community.
Speaking of service, one of Mississippi’s most influential members of education is featured in this issue. Retired U.S. Army Col. Paul Willis, who leads Jackson Public Schools’ Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program, is responsible for guiding so many students to their high school diploma, institutions of higher learning and service programs beyond college.
There are other great stories in this issue, from a group of young women in Franklin County proving engineering is for all students and middle school students in Starkville getting their first tastes — literally — of what they can do at home with CTE to North Mississippi students aiding Le Bonheur outreach efforts and a prize-winning Gulfport automotive teacher whose most recent accolade will fund reinvestments back into his school's shop.
I challenge you to continue these themes of service in your own community. Together, we can make Mississippi a better place through education and empathy.
Director, Office of Career and Technical Education
Mississippi Department of Education