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State Spotlight on Mississippi

Going into the 2017–18 school year, Mississippi is prioritizing  SWIFT scale-up and professional development events related to such priority features as positive behavior, educator support, and family/community engagement.

Statewide SWIFT scale-up efforts are in full swing in Mississippi. The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) selected two elementary schools in the Jackson Public School district as SWIFT partner sites. SWIFT integration will begin once the site audits are complete. The principals are wholly on board, and the schools will act as preschool model sites. MDE is also in the process of hiring a SWIFT coordinator to assist with scale-up and implementation efforts.

Mississippi is planning its own statewide SWIFT Professional Learning Institute (PLI), scheduled for September 26 and 27 at the Marriott in Jackson. This year’s theme is Heart of a Champion, Teams for Student Success.

“Excitement is growing as preparations are underway for the second annual Mississippi SWIFT PLI,” Robin Lemonis, MDE’s Director of Intervention Services, said. “There is always a sense of urgency when it comes to providing high quality instruction for all students. The Mississippi PLI promises to advance a wide range of professional objectives, extend knowledge of resources, introduce attendees to new theories, develop new skills, and rejuvenate enthusiasm for working directly with students.”

The Office of Student Intervention Services and the Office of Compulsory Attendance/Dropout Prevention co-hosted a one-day Chronic Absenteeism Summit as part of Mississippi’s efforts to address Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports. Elementary Intervention Specialists from the Mississippi Department of Education shared SWIFT resources and tools with over 200 participants, and addressed intervention strategies to support students, increase positive behaviors, and improve academic performance.

Family/community engagement remains a priority for MDE. Intervention Services, in collaboration with the Kellogg Foundation, offered two regional training sessions for educators entitled “Providing Engaging Experiences to Parents,” and plans to offer more throughout the state.This train-the-trainer module helps schools teach K–5 parents how to use at-home activities that reinforce English, language arts, and mathematics standards and incorporate materials that are typically available in the homes of many families. Each district team that participated received a training kit that included a sample training agenda, PowerPoint presentation, a sample flyer to announce the training, tips for hosting a successful parent night, and sample pre-made activities.

Coming soon as part of MDE’s efforts to support educators will be monthly webinars with the SWIFT SEA Team, as well as the districts and schools this fall. Webinars will have a different topic every month, provide MDE updates, alert listeners of upcoming professional development opportunities, and reinforce SWIFT evidence-based features using the SWIFT-in-60 videos.

Thanks to Robin Lemonis and Bacardi Mayfield-Harris for contributing to this article.

Lucy supports SWIFT Center's Communications Team as a Communications Specialist, which is just a fancy way of saying she edits, writes, and otherwise owns whatever lands on her desk that day. Lucy has been hard of hearing since age 4, and is passionate about accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities, especially those who are deaf or hard of hearing.