CHRIS KIEFFER: Taste of Joyner provides good model for linking community, school

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

The recent Taste of Joyner event was a great example of a neighborhood and a school coming together.
Joyner Elementary’s Parent Teacher Association and the Joyner Neighborhood Association combined to host the Sept. 17 family gathering, which brought neighborhood residents and students to the lawn in front of the elementary school.
More than 200 people participated in a one-mile fun run, said Leslie Mart, president of the Joyner Neighborhood Association. Many more just came for food or music or to participate in the many children’s activities that were spread throughout the lawn.
Kids had the opportunity to climb into a fire truck or onto inflatable towers and playground equipment. They could visit a petting zoo, have their hair spray painted or maneuver a HealthWorks! obstacle course.
Tupelo Superintendent Randy Shaver has said that he believes it is not only important for the community to be a part of the school but also for the school to be a part of the community. This event, with its large turnout, proved to be a good manifestation of such a partnership.
“We felt like brining the two together was helpful,” said Joyner PTA member Jane Clair Shettles, who teamed with fellow PTA member Leigh Ann Wise on a committee that helped organize the event. Joyner PTA President Julia Gaines was also an important part of that effort.
Shettles did not have an exact figure for how much money was raised for the school, but said any money that did come in would be used to add technology, like interactive whiteboards, in its classrooms. She said the goal of this year’s event wasn’t the money as much as providing a fun night to link the community and the school.
Christian Reed, vice president of the Joyner Neighborhood Association, said that the association would split any profits it made from the race with the PTA. It will use its portion of the proceeds for projects like adding sidewalks and identification signs and improving the park.
“It is a relationship that we feel is important,” Reed said of the link with the school. “We want the school to know that we like having them in our neighborhood. We want to have a positive relationship with them.”
Contact education writer Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or

Click video to hear audio