CHRIS KIEFFER: Registration open for parent leadership institute

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

Applications are being accepted for the second Northeast Mississippi Parent Leadership Institute.
Conducted by Parents for Public Schools, the institute is designed to get parents more involved in helping public schools improve academic achievement for all students.
Guest speakers explain the details of subjects like state test scores, school budgets and district hierarchies. Parents then plan projects that they can take to their home school districts to help improve student performance.
This year’s institute will cover three Fridays and three Saturdays in the fall. The dates are Sept. 10-11, Oct. 8-9 and Nov. 5-6. Those sessions will be held at the Hancock Leadership Center in Tupelo.
“I recommend it to anyone,” said Barbara Carouthers, who has a son in sixth grade in Okolona Schools and who attended this year’s institute. “It is six very busy days of your life, but if you go in knowing I want to do this and I am willing to take on this challenge, it is wonderful.”
Carouthers said that she found it particularly useful to learn how the state’s test scores are tabulated.
“That gave us insight into the areas that needed work and that is how a lot of us picked our projects,” Carouthers said.
For her project, she teamed with retired educator Sarah Jenkins to focus on improving the Algebra 1 test scores at Okolona High School. They hosted a series of workshops to provide tips for students and parents.
Martha Ann Wilson of Tupelo, who also attended this year’s institute, has used her project to enhance a science lab at Parkway Elementary.
“Personally for me, there is no other way I’d rather spend my time than knowing I’m making an impact on my child’s future,” said Wilson, who has a daughter in first grade at Parkway and a son in third-grade at Lawndale Elementary.
She said the best part of the institute was the support she has received from Parents for Public Schools.
“It is a great nationwide network, and you know that you are not in it alone,” Wilson said. “It also has local benefits. I can get into my school, but I know I have people behind me who would help me.”
The institute is free to all participants. All expenses, including materials, meals and lodging, are provided by Parents for Public Schools. Overnight accommodations will be provided at the Holiday Inn Express.
More information is available online at You can also contact Sally Gray, Parent Coach for PPS, at 662-372-0371 or
The institute is open to all parents and caregivers of public school students and those who work with parents. Up to 30 participants will be selected. The deadline to register is May 21.
As schools face declining resources from state funding cuts, the institute is a great way for parents to step up and help plug those gaps.
Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or

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