ABOUT THE LATEST ISSUE
If the spring semester could be summed up with one word, that word would be uncertainty. If someone asked me to sum up this fall semester with one word, I’d say adaptation.
The emergence of COVID-19 in Mississippi fundamentally changed how we, as career and technical educators, go about the daily process of preparing our students for the future.
Teachers were already tasked with meeting individual students’ needs in-person before the pandemic, but now, in the world of COVID-19, instructors must take into account those needs and a new swath of other concerns: the health, safety and welfare of their in-person students; how to deliver their specific class’ or pathway’s curriculum to e-learners through various digital avenues; and even whether their students have the technology at home to continue their distance learning, among others.
In this issue’s cover story, three teachers from different school districts and pathways share how they adapted their instruction during COVID-19 to meet the specific needs of their students, communities and curricula (p. 6). We also tell the story of how professional development through the Mississippi Department of Education moved online (p. 18) and prepared new teachers for the world of blended instruction they’re experiencing this semester.
Additionally, I (p. 10) and other career and technical education (CTE) administrators and directors (p. 30) share what we learned from the spring shutdown and describe what CTE looks like moving forward. We also list numerous online teaching resources and tips (p. 26) to assist teachers as they adapt to the ever-changing climate.
Speaking of moving forward, we have two stories about new endeavors: a revamped work-based learning program provides students with crucial work experiences before graduation (p. 12) and new computer science curricula prepares learners for the digital work environments today and tomorrow (p. 22).
We also have numerous stories highlighting efforts to better our communities during the pandemic. For example, Petal health science students held a blood drive that helped save lives (p. 4), while Lauderdale County students made hand sanitizer stations that were set up for public use at district football games (p. 21).
There are also many other stories in this magazine from the pre-pandemic spring semester that remind us how different life was almost a year ago. It’s important for us to look back at those now so we can take stock of and be appreciative of the good things still happening in our classrooms and homes today.
I’m proud of the resiliency our students, teachers, administrators and community partners have shown throughout this turning point for our way of life. Together, we will continue to persevere and create a new generation of leaders capable of adapting through their own future challenges.
Director, Office of Career and Technical Education
Mississippi Department of Education