By Riley Manning/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Last month, the city of Tupelo and the Tupelo Public School District were awarded one of only five Governor’s Awards given annually in the state.
The distinction recognizes collaboration between a city and its school district.
“These Governor’s Awards are hard to come by. We are the only ones to receive it on a district-wide level,” said Superintendent Gearl Loden. “We are blessed by our unique partnership that I have rarely seen abroad.”
At a Monday press conference, Mayor Jack Reed Jr. said he took office with intentions of supporting Tupelo’s schools.
“The success of the city of Tupelo and the success of its school district are inseparable,” he said.
He mentioned the implementation of safer routes to schools, consisting of paved sidewalks surrounding highly-populated school zones.
Other initiatives include the Safe Splash program, which introduces all second grade students in the district to swimming. Shared use agreements regarding playground equipment have also been established to open playground facilities to neighborhood use.
“I’m particularly proud of Safe Splash,” Reed said. “It grants a skill that can be both life-saving and enjoyable.”
Loden said efforts were being made to advance this program to teach first-graders the skill as well.
The city has also adopted Read and Rise, a program supported by Scholastic Inc. that donates a copy of the children’s book “Goodnight Moon” to each newborn child in an effort to promote literacy within the home.
Loden said the city is involved with numerous church partnerships assisting with after school programs, and that he has seen a high volume of tutoring by retired teachers. In addition, the city has helped foster interpersonal relationships between its officials and youngsters.
“Like Police Chief Tony Carleton says, we want people to run toward the police,” Reed said. “It’s much more effective to prevent dropouts than correct them once they’ve happened.
“Success in reading and school makes a kid feel good. Once they recognize that good feeling, they will keep putting forth the effort to succeed.”