Grant to MSU, Louisville schools to aid students

STARKVILLE, Miss.—A nearly $2 million grant awarded to Mississippi State’s College of Education and the Louisville Municipal School District will be used to help boost at-risk student achievements through academic tutoring, teacher intervention and literacy training.

Announced Monday [Aug. 26] at the district’s central office, the Mississippi Department of Education award to the university is part of the agency’s 21st Century Community Learning Center program. The project will focus on some 150-200 at-risk students in kindergarten-fourth grades.

Teresa Jayroe, associate dean of the college, said the five-year partnership will provide after-school and summer enrichment programs for the city’s Fair Memorial and Louisville elementary schools, as well as Noxapater and Nanih Waiya attendance centers in Winston County.

“This will enable us to place 12 interventionists in these schools for 17 hours per week, along with 10 tutors and 12 teachers in an after-school and summer enrichment program,” Jayroe said. “The innovative learning and enrichment components of the program are designed to produce outcomes such as improved achievement in classroom academics, higher test scores, and increased class attendance.”

The state-of-the-art educational approach is named for the late Susan Gregory Dillard, a longtime LMSD teacher who assisted with the initial grant proposal now known as the Dillard’s Reading, Enrichment, Arts, Mathematics and Science After-school and Summer Tutorial Enrichment Program (DREAMS).

A Nanih Waiya Attendance Center graduate, Dillard taught English at her alma mater until her death in 2010. She was a National Board Certified Teacher and the school’s 2010 Teacher of the Year and STAR teacher. Dillard was a Mississippi State doctoral graduate who also previously taught at the university.

College of Education Dean Richard Blackbourn praised the DREAMS program for being “an example of what we try to do in MSU’s College of Education; build a better life for boys and girls in local communities.”

In his remarks, Superintendent Ken McMullan said the district is happy and proud that “our partnership with Mississippi State continues to grow.”

“Grants like this can be hard to come by, and we are definitely thankful for this opportunity to give our children the best education possible,” McMullan added.

DREAMS is an evidence-based curricula with strategies to increase vocabulary, reading fluency and comprehension, mathematics fluency and number sense, problem solving and critical thinking skills. Instruction will complement the students’ regular academic program by emphasizing active, hands-on learning activities.

“The students also will be provided with the necessary resources and personal assistance to complete assignments and projects, while also working to develop interpersonal skills and build character,” Jayroe explained.

Other MSU education faculty members involved in the program’s implementation are Donna Shea, director of the clinical/field-based, instruction, and outreach office; Rebecca Robichaux-Davis, associate professor of mathematics in curriculum, instruction and special education; and Angela Mulkana, a literacy instructor in curriculum, instruction and special education.

Front row: L to R: Louisville Mayor Will Hill, Dr. Teresa Gamill - MSU, Senator Giles Ward, Dr. Teresa Jayroe- MSU, and Gale Gregory,  Back row: Mark Dillard,  Dr. Richard Blackbourn - MSU, Rep. Michael Evans, and LMSD Superintendent Ken McMullan.

Front row: L to R: Louisville Mayor Will Hill, Dr. Teresa Gamill – MSU, Senator Giles Ward, Dr. Teresa Jayroe- MSU, and Gale Gregory, Back row: Mark Dillard, Dr. Richard Blackbourn – MSU, Rep. Michael Evans, and LMSD Superintendent Ken McMullan.