Insights From Educators

What are the successes your school district experienced during the pandemic that you are the proudest of?

We celebrate that CTE is a family, and it showed bigger and brighter during the pandemic. It is our daily goal to make our students and staff feel like they are a part of a family; it makes learning and teaching intentional, engaging, fun and prosperous. We also celebrate, even though times are different, the fact that teachers continued on their path to help our students be successful through new, available resources and best practices; they never wavered. Teamwork made our dream work, and I’m grateful for our team.

Evet Topp

Evet Topp
Tupelo Career and Technical Center director

Our students and staff continued to grow our culture in our district. We never lowered our expectations.

Lundy Brantley

Lundy Brantley
Neshoba County School District superintendent

What does CTE look like to you after COVID-19?

Post-COVID instruction for CTE will look much the same (hybrid), except instructors will be more comfortable with online learning. As instructors mold their curriculum and meld hands-on opportunities into their plans, I feel that learning will increase. Students will benefit from the blending of instruction. Technology and training will catch up to 21st-century standards.

Kevin Williams

Kevin Williams
Tippah Career and Technology Center director

What were the biggest challenges your school district faced as students, teachers and administrators returned to the classroom?

The biggest challenge was working through the quarantine with our students to continue to provide instruction online while continuing to teach in person. It took great communication from all parties to make this a great success.

Lundy Brantley

Lundy Brantley
Neshoba County School District superintendent

What is the most important thing you learned from the move toward online/blended instruction?

The most important thing we learned is our purpose continues despite the hurdles we must cross. Although COVID-19 prevented face-to-face instruction inside the school building, we continued to provide students with the tools that will prepare them for college and a career. Regardless of the mode of instruction, our focus did not change. Our teachers were expected to teach, and our students were expected to learn. Therefore, virtual leaning had the same expectations: excellence in academic achievement. Our students were all equipped with Chromebooks and hot spots for connectivity provided by the district.

Our world-class teachers were prepared for the transition to Canvas, the Tunica County School District’s chosen learning management system. From contracted and in-house professional development to building administrators’ guidance, peer-teaching and presentations, our teachers were prepared for the challenge of virtual learning. The teachers are resilient and pushed forward to provide instruction to all students.

Our district was 100% virtual, providing instruction using explicit, direct instruction via Google Meet and Canvas. Google Meet provided us with the technology to get closer to our students during the global COVID-19 pandemic. It served as our virtual classroom and digital communication tool that provided interactive instruction with screen sharing for teachers and students.

We were supported by Superintendent Margie Pulley and the central office staff in every aspect of reaching and teaching our students, while also providing safety for everyone. The focus of our district is teaching, learning and safety. Our priority is the safety of our students, faculty, staff, parents and community. We are so proud of our students at David Williams Jr. Career and Technical Center. They rose to the challenges and defeated the odds. The following Michelle Forman quote says it best: “Each student is a unique person and a powerful learner capable of great achievement. I truly marvel at … students’ capacity for learning, accomplishment and growth.”

Dianne Daley

Dianne Daley
David Williams Jr. Career and Technical Center (Tunica County School District) director

I learned that CTE can work — and even thrive — in a hybrid state. By utilizing online learning management systems such as Canvas, we can combine online learning with in-class/shop hands-on training to maximize career readiness. And we have instructors ready and willing to put in the necessary work to get it done.

Kevin Williams

Kevin Williams
Tippah Career and Technology Center director

It reiterated what I always knew about our teachers: They are passionate for our students and their learning, and they rose to the occasion and did what needed to be done to make a smooth transition from traditional learning to what was necessary for our students’ success during the pandemic.

Evet Topp

Evet Topp
Tupelo Career and Technical Center director

The most important thing that I have learned is to be sure to pace myself in these uncertain times and to lead others to do the same. In uncertain situations like we are currently experiencing, pacing is very important to prevent burnout.

Lundy Brantley

Lundy Brantley
Neshoba County School District superintendent



ABOUT CONNECTIONS

Connections is the magazine for K-12 career and technical education (CTE) in Mississippi. The biannual publication features students, educators, schools, and organizations from approximately 50 career pathways across 16 career clusters. This Mississippi Department of Education publication is produced by the Research and Curriculum Unit at Mississippi State University. Issues are disseminated in print and electronic forms in May and December each year.

To be added to the mailing list for future issues, please send your email address to helpdesk@rcu.msstate.edu.