St. John’s Features Little Free Library

St. John’s Episcopal Church recently unveiled a Little Free Library on the church campus. 

Lydia Cheney released the standing box library that was designed and constructed by her father, Dr. Ben Cheney of Biloxi Internal Medicine Clinic. 

The Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization that inspires a love of reading, builds community, and sparks creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world.

According to their website, through Little Free Libraries, millions of books are exchanged each year, profoundly increasing access to books for readers of all ages and backgrounds.

The concept behind the library is for people to “take a book, return a book.” 

There are more than 50,000 registered Little Free Library book exchanges in the United States and in over 70 countries around the world. 

The church is located on the corner of Rayburn and Porter in Ocean Springs. 

For more information on The Little Free Library and its mission, visit

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MGCCC student takes part in research at Dauphin Island Sea Lab 

Rachel-2017-REU-Poster-1024x688 MGCCC student takes part in research at Dauphin Island Sea Lab 

MGCCC graduate Rachel Pugh with a poster reflecting the research she was involved in during the ten-week Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) this summer at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab.

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College graduate Rachel Pugh was one of five undergraduates to participate in the ten-week Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) this summer at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab. The program sponsored by the National Science Foundation is an opportunity for students to take classroom knowledge of their research process and apply it to their scientific interests.  For many of these students, it’s the first chance they have to experience the research process from beginning to end.

Pugh, from Hurley, graduated from MGCCC in May.  One of her MGCCC instructors, Dr. Christy Philipoff, connected her to scientists across the Coast, including those at the Gulf Coast Research Lab, where she completed another internship.

“MGCCC prepared me well for my experience,” Pugh said. “I would like to thank my professors there for going above and beyond to help me in my academics and helping me connect with area scientists.”

During the REU, Pugh was paired with faculty members who mentored her during the program, which lasted from May 2 – August 4. Students engaged in the program have an opportunity to customize their experience based on their unique research interests. A marine biology major, Pugh said her summer was spent doing the kind of research she hopes to do as a scientist.

“I was working in the Sediment Ecology Lab of Dr. Kelly Dorgan, but I also worked closely with Dr. Bill Walton at the Auburn Shellfish Lab,” she said. “My research project focused on Polydora websteri in Crassotrea virginica, or mud blister worms in oysters. Mud blister worms are small, polychaete worms that create burrows in the shells of oysters. Some of these worms make their way into the shell cavity and create unsightly blisters filled with mud. These blisters were the focus of my study. They decrease the value of the oyster on the half-shell market, so they are a major concern for oyster farmers.”

She said she visited three local Alabama oyster farms to collect samples. “I then brought them back to the lab and assessed the blisters in different ways, including testing their strength with a force-sensing shucking knife I programmed,” she said. “My project is still ongoing as I am continuing to further analyze the data and working with another REU participant and our mentors to write a paper on our findings.”  

Pugh also had the chance to begin her summer with a Coastal Louisiana Silica Cycling (CLASiC) research cruise in early May.

Pugh said the REU program at Dauphin Island Sea Lab was an amazing learning experience for her.  She developed her own research methods and carried out her own field work. “I developed new skills such as electric wiring, programming and knowledge of several different coding languages,” she said. “The skills I gained will benefit me for the rest of my college experience and my career. I also made great connections with scientists and graduate students at the Sea Lab. The program was challenging, but it was an incredible experience. I would recommend it to any marine science major.”

Dr. Bill Walton, who serves as a DISL faculty mentor, said the experience accomplishes what the Sea Lab intended. “For me, it’s great to see undergraduates come in and get into the mix of research and all the demands of a field season. I also love seeing the point where a student starts to make the project his or her own.”

To learn more about the Research Experience for Undergraduates program at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, visit

Rachel-2017-REU-Poster-1024x688 MGCCC student takes part in research at Dauphin Island Sea Lab 

Pugh had the chance to begin her summer with a Coastal Louisiana Silica Cycling (CLASiC) research cruise in early May.

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Ocean Springs Education Foundation Hosted Annual Drawdown Fundraiser

The Ocean Springs Education Foundation, otherwise known as OSEF, hosted their annual drawdown fundraiser party on Saturday following the theme “Tailgating for Teachers”.

This is the non-profit’s only fundraising event of the year. The foundation raises funds for grants awarded to educators who have conceived in notative educational programs for the students enrolled in the Ocean Springs School District. OSEF also offers several special awards to reinforce its mission and recognize innovation in the classroom. According to the foundation’s Facebook page, “Since its inception, more than $220,000 in grants has been awarded for programs in the Ocean Springs School District.”

The foundation’s purpose is to grant the teachers the opportunity to experiment and be real laboratories of learning experiences in the classroom It also provides money they probably would not get from the district. 

“We had an amazing turnout with lots of fun had by many, all to raise money for the great teachers within our school district. All the funds raised goes directly back into the classrooms by way of grants”, says a representative from the event. 

When OSEF awards the grants in the spring, it also recognizes two outstanding grant recipients from the previous year with an award of $500 each. In addition, a teacher who has been nominated by a student or parent receives the Pieper Niolon Teacher of the Year recognition each December. 

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Jackson County School District Hosts First Fab Lab

The Jackson County School District (JCSD) hosted the first Fab Lab Mobile Unit school visit in Vancleave, Miss., on September 7. Sixth grade students at Vancleave Upper Elementary School connected their Mississippi Studies curriculum with hands-on learning. 
The Fab Lab Mobile Unit is a new technical platform designed to give students a hands-on learning experience with STEAM education. And it’s designed to add more fun into learning. 
At the first school visit, Vancleave students were interactively led through computer graphics, proportional calculations and even hands-on engraving. The students learned how to use the laser engraver and make their own symbol (Magnolia tree, deer, etc.)  of what Mississippi means to them. The mobile unit includes a vinyl cutter, laser cutter, 3d printer, and CNC router.
This summer, 50 JCSD teachers have been trained on the software and tools so that they can begin to integrate the Fab Lab mobile unit into their lesson planning.
In April, Chevron and Fab Lab partnered to create this $1.2 million project. The mobile unit will be making school and community stops throughout Jackson County, and the permanent location is expected to be complete by early 2018.
For more information on Fab Lab, visit
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Mad Scientist Super Saturday to Feature STEM

The Pascagoula-Gautier School District’s Mad Scientist Super Saturday will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, at the Aaron Jones Family Interactive Center, 1415 Skip St., across from Pascagoula High School.

Children can participate in a number of STEM experiments with Chevron, Ingalls Shipbuilding, Mississippi Power, Omega Protein, Stennis Space Center, Orion Engineering and exhibits by Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Girl Scouts and Excel by 5. Children can also explore the Wetlands Room, astronomy lab, Main Street Pascagoula, Pirate Ship Room, Black Light Room, Flight Simulators Room, Toddler Town and more.

Mad Scientist Super Saturday is open free to the public.

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Moss Point Starts ROV Program

SeaPerch-1-300x218 Moss Point Starts ROV ProgramLook out SeaPerch competitors! The Moss Point STEM Team has just been awarded a grant to purchase the very first underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV) in the district! The ROV will be designed and constructed in the Robotics Engineering program and be used to compete in the upcoming SeaPerch competition!  SeaPerch is an innovative underwater robotics program that equips teachers and students with the resources they need to build an underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) in an in-school or out-of-school setting. Students build the ROV from a kit comprised of low-cost, easily accessible parts, following a curriculum that teaches basic engineering and science concepts with a marine engineering theme. The SeaPerch Program provides students with the opportunity to learn about robotics, engineering, science, and mathematics (STEM) while building an underwater ROV as part of a Robotics Engineering curriculum.  Billy J. Carroll is the founder and coach of the Moss Point STEM Team. Dr. Durand Payton is the director of the Moss Point Career and Technical Education Center. 

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Batiste named MGCCC’s associate vice president of Institutional Advancement

Tenesha-Batiste-502fx-219x300 Batiste named MGCCC’s associate vice president of Institutional AdvancementTenesha Batiste has been named the associate vice president for Institutional Advancement at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.  The Institutional Advancement office oversees the MGCCC Foundation and Alumni.

Batiste was previously dean of Business Services at the college’s Jackson County Campus and director of Human Resources at the District Office in Perkinston.  Before joining the college’s team, she worked as director of Human Resources for the City of Moss Point and worked in Human Resources at Singing River Health System. 

Graduating magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English/journalism with a concentration in public relations from historic Tougaloo College, Batiste also holds a Master of Business Administration degree with an emphasis in human resources management from American Intercontinental University.  She is currently pursuing a doctorate in human capital development from The University of Southern Mississippi.

She has served on the Board of Directors for the Home of Grace Christian Rehabilitation Facility, Board of Directors for the College and University Professional Association for HR (CUPA-HR) Gulf Coast/Louisiana chapters, and CUPA-HR’s National Learning and Professional Development Committee.  She is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management and the local Gulf Coast chapter of Society for Human Resource Management. 

A community leader, Batiste is an active member of Theta Zeta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., has served as president and vice president, and is former president of the TZO Ivy Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Theta Zeta Omega. Currently, she is the chapter’s membership chairperson. She is a charter member of Mississippi Gulf Coast Connection and serves as program chairperson.  She has received several awards in leadership, including the 2011 Lifetime and Cable One Caring Women Award in Leadership and the Ethel Hedgemen Lyle Award for being a young leader and rising star.  Recently, she received the Blessed Girls Rock award.  She has also received her sorority chapter’s highest award, Woman of the Year.  Charter president of the Kiwanis of Moss Point, she is a Rotarian and a former Civil Service commissioner, director of Jackson County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for children, and member of Junior Auxiliary of Biloxi/Ocean Springs.  She is a graduate of Leadership Jackson County Class of 2010 and Singing River Health System’s Leadership and Management Development Program.  She is also a graduate of the Mississippi Community College Leadership Academy. 

Batiste, known to many as Danielle, is married to Pastor Tony R. Batiste, and they reside in Moss Point.

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CBRES Hosts Summer Interns

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For the seventh year in a row, Chevron Business & Real Estate Services (CBRES) has welcomed summer interns to the Pascagoula Refinery.

Open to dependents of current Refinery employees, the program employs 15 interns through TMG Industrial. The group reports to Kathy Council under the direction of David Trott (CBRES). The team is performing various jobs to spruce up the refinery, such as painting the Shipping building and parking bumpers for upcoming turnarounds as well as general clean up at Procurement warehouses during inclement weather. They have also assisted with less routine projects, like pretending to be accident victims during an emergency services training exercise in June.

This year’s interns and mentors are (from left) Wesley Drivers (GCA), Jon Tibbs (Gulf Breeze Landscape), Avie Porser (GCA), Keaton Walley, Clarence Kelly (GCA), Tristen Eubanks, Jerry Williams (GCA), Patrick Taylor, Joshua Robinson, Lashaun Love, Whitney Owens (GCA), John Tyler Howell, Christopher Graham, Chandler Fox, Cassie Crocker, Dylan Cagle, Hailey Boney, David Trott (CBRES), Montie Smith, Laken Lambert, Jon Hansen (GSI), Aaron McDaniel, Kathy Council (TMG) and (not pictured) Alora Houston.

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Refinery Reps Help With B&GC Gala

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Volunteers with the Pascagoula Refinery’s Black Employee Network (BEN) lent a helping hand during the 20th annual Boys & Girls Club “Steak and Steak” fundraiser.

The event brings together children who participate in local Boys & Girls Clubs and community members to enjoy a steak dinner and guest speaker. Former NFL great Andre Reed provided this year’s keynote address.

Attendees also have an opportunity to bid on items in the silent auction. Chevron volunteers helped staff this portion of the event, including (from left) DaJohn Murray, Sarah Denney, Brandon Gray, Nicole McBeath, Alecia Asiamigbe, Kentrell Owens, Penny Barbour, Valerie Brune, Austin McSpadden, Carlos Moore, Tiahirih Moore, Mike Seales, Rayford Harris, Makamba Sackey, Cheryl McLeod, Jamie Smith and Catherine Glaude (Chief Professional Officer, Boys & Girls Clubs of Jackson County).

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MGCCC to host annual LLI Membership Drive

LLI-Membershp-Drive-2017_Page_1-1024x729 MGCCC to host annual LLI Membership Drive

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College will kick off the 2017-2018 year for the Lifelong Learning Institute with a luncheon on September 1, 11 a.m., at the Jackson County Campus.  Current and potential LLI members from George, Jackson, Harrison and Stone counties will meet in the private dining room to hear about plans for the year ahead. A schedule of the year’s activities and trips will be available at the luncheon.

“This program is full of energy and excitement,” said Lisa Bradley Palermo, LLI program coordinator and director of Business Development and Hospitality and Resort Management. “We will take a little time to find out what our members want to learn about, and then we’ll hit the ground running with a program that is meaningful and enjoyable. Learning occurs in many different ways, and we plan to explore them all over the course of the next year.”

Founded in 1996, the Lifelong Learning Institute provides educational opportunities to meet the needs of South Mississippi’s maturing population. The member-led organization is for adults 50 and older who care about lifelong learning, are self-motivated and want to continue participating in a variety of activities with other like-minded individuals. The membership fee is $50 annually, with a July to June calendar year.

LLI membership includes exciting opportunities to learn about and connect with the community; opportunities for day and overnight travel; student rates at MGCCC events; use of the campus fitness centers; access to MGCCC Learning Resource Centers; student parking permit; Plus 50’s Encore Completion Program for seniors age 65 and over; and membership in the MGCCC Alumni Association.  Alumni Association membership includes receiving the Alumni eNewsletter and President’s Report; Alumni Association membership card and window decal; use of campus tennis courts and walking trails at designated times; discounted rates for admission to athletic and fine arts events; notification of special events; and Gregory War Memorial chapel privileges.

The event is open to the public, and individuals 50 and over are encouraged to attend and find out about LLI adventures. The Jackson County Campus is located at 2300 US-90, Gautier, MS 39553. To RSVP and for more information, contact Lisa Bradley at (228) 897-3971 or email

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