-Alexa Jenkins, Copy Editor
Clinton, Miss., is a good place to get an education. Not only is it home to Mississippi College, the state’s oldest university which is consistently ranked on ‘Best College Buys’ lists, but the Clinton Public School District has also been recently ranked as the No. 1 district academically in the state. All but one school in the district received A ratings, making it the only A district in the state based on this year’s test scores. Other schools were given a waiver to keep the A if their scores dropped due to the introduction of Common Core curriculum, but CPSD’s scores met the benchmark without the waiver. Based on a state-wide scoring system, all but one of the schools in the Clinton District are A-rated schools, and the one B-rated school was only seven points shy of an A.
These test scores and high ratings benefit Clinton’s children and the community as a whole, but they are also closely related to Mississippi College. Tim Martin, Assistant Superintendent of CPSD, says, “A major part of our success as a school district is attributed to our partnership with MC.” Each year approximately 125 students from the MC Department of Teacher Education are placed to observe, assist, and student teach in Clinton schools. These placements give principals and administrators an opportunity to get to know individuals over several weeks, which, according to Martin, enables them to hire some of the best MC graduates.
Many CPSD employees continue their own education at Mississippi College, taking advantage of the master’s and doctoral programs. Martin says that having MC nearby makes it more convenient for teachers to take night and summer classes, and better educated teachers create better schools. Mississippi College’s teacher education faculty also includes individuals who were formerly involved with CPSD. Department Chair Dr. Cindy Melton, an MC alumnus, was a teacher in Clinton schools before continuing her career at MC, and assistant professor Tommye Henderson was superintendent of the Clinton Public School District before joining MC’s faculty. Additionally, partnership with Mississippi College gives CPSD access to professional development programs to better educate their teachers. Melton says that almost 2/3 of the educators in the district have earned a degree from MC, and many have been involved as adjunct teachers in the department.
Lastly, many students who attend and graduate from Clinton schools choose to enroll at MC. Those students have benefited from the work of MC alumni and have been poured into by the staff at CPSD, and they bring the knowledge they’ve gained back into the MC community. As Martin pointed out, this is especially significant when a Clinton graduate attends MC, majors in education, and finds himself or herself student teaching and eventually employed by the schools they once attended.
Mississippi College is involved in the community in many ways, and its partnership with Clinton schools is definitely a significant connection. Melton concludes that, “We recognize that CPSD is doing an excellent job of educating our K through 12 students, and they are also providing our teacher candidates with some of the best hands-on training in the country. We are proud that so many of the outstanding teachers that contribute to the success of CPSD were once our MC students!”