LENA MITCHELL: Acknowledging good work that supports students and schools

By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal

Mississippi in May is a month of transitions.
Not only does the average daily temperature shoot from the 60s to the high 80s seemingly overnight, but it’s graduation time for children and young people graduating from head starts to high schools, colleges and universities across the state.
Fittingly, it’s not only a time when the students’ achievements and successes are celebrated, but also a time to acknowledge those who have helped them reach their milestones.
Over the past several weeks I have had the pleasure and honor of writing about one school district’s teacher of the year, administrator of the year and most recently the parent of the year.
In the coming weeks we’ll learn who rose to be selected for state and national recognition for their work and support of the students.
The Corinth School District’s recently-launched “Bravo!” award adds another layer of much-deserved recognition.
The award – a certificate, a specially marked parking place and fun gift items – is a way to “shine the spotlight on those employees who are always going the extra mile,” said Superintendent Lee Childress.
During President Bill Clinton’s administration, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke of the notion that “it takes a village to raise a child” from an African proverb, and later gave a book the title.
In “It Takes A Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us” Clinton talks about the impact people throughout a community have on a child and urges society as a whole to acknowledge and assume this responsibility.
Each of these annual recognitions acknowledges the underlying truth of that belief.
Another example of this principle is Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis, Tenn.
President Barack Obama will deliver the school’s commencement address on Monday to recognize it as winner of the Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge.
The national Race to the Top competition recognizes schools that have overcome tremendous hurdles as it helps students succeed.
Booker T. Washington High School sits in a south Memphis neighborhood where the median income is less than $11,000 per year and the crime rate is the 14th highest in the nation, according to the Associated Press.
And yet Principal Alisha Kiner, her teachers, staff and community raised the graduation rate for the school’s 500 students from 55 percent in 2007 to more than 80 percent in 2010.
Without a significant level of commitment from parents, teachers, staff, administrators and the broader community the students would be without the support systems that make it possible for them to achieve at each level.
Acknowledging the help and guidance those concerned individuals give to those students is the least a grateful community can do.

Lena Mitchell is the Daily Journal Corinth Bureau reporter. Contact her at 287-9822 or lena.mitchell@journalinc.com.