December 9, 2020 11:11:45 AM
Since opening its doors on the campus of Mississippi University for Women in 1987, the Mississippi School for Math and Science has served as a model for what high school education can be.
Each year, MSMS ranks as the top high school in the state and among the very best schools in the nation with its students attracting millions of dollars in scholarships to some of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the nation.
While the two-year residential high school is designed for academically-gifted students, it is important to note that the school is a public high school, funded by the state.
With a student body of roughly 230 kids, its impact could be limited. To its credit, MSMS has never taken an insular approach to its mission. While the majority of public school students in Mississippi will not benefit from attending MSMS, the school's administration, staff and, yes, students, are sharing resources with students from kindergarten through 10th grade through its outreach programs.
At both the elementary and middle school level, MSMS offers "Weekly Wednesday Workouts," a virtual program that focuses on grade-level math standards. Students can enroll individually or teachers can enroll their classrooms. The free online enrichment classes are conducted by faculty and MSMS students.
Beginning at third grade and through middle school, students have access to MSMS "Full Steam Ahead," another virtual program design to teach engineering design concepts.
At the 9th and 10th grade level, MSMS sponsors an annual mathematics tournament and distance learning programs, designed to fill needs for schools that are unable to offer certain courses because of a lack of funding or personnel.
For MSMS, such programs are a means of outreach, making gifted students aware of what the school has to offer.
But since the majority of public-school students will never attend MSMS, the programs it offers complement and enhance education for public school students no matter where they are.
"We can't serve every school in Mississippi, " MSMS Executive Director Germain McConnell said. "But our focus is: how do we help those under-resourced areas, those areas where you have kids who need to be in those more advanced level classes? Even in those schools that have resources, it's hard to find teachers to teach those upper level classes, so that's what we want to do."
The success MSMS has enjoyed for three-plus decades is all the justification needed for the school. That much of what the school has to offer is not confined to the MSMS student body, but is offered to other public-school students only serves to reinforce what it has to offer.
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