PGSD offers summer reading

Pascagoula-Gautier School District is offering students a summer reading opportunity thanks to the STAR Bus. 

Students entering the 1st-7th grades for the 2017-2018 school year are invited to come aboard the STAR Bus to read and take AR tests. Students must be registered by a responsible adult and may stay on the bus for one hour.

The program lasts from June 5 through July 7. Students can read on the bus from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

The STAR Bus will be located at:

Monday: Pascagoula Boys and Girls Club

Tuesday: Gautier Boys and Girls Club

Wednesday: Jackson Elementary June 7, 21, July 5/Gautier Elementary June 14 and 28

Thursday: City of Pascagoula Summer Program

Friday: Pascagoula Walmart

For more information, call (228) 938-6491.

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OSMS teacher receives national recognition

erica-scott-osms OSMS teacher receives national recognition

The American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese has recognized an Ocean Springs Middle School teacher for her outstanding work in the classroom.

According to The Greyhound Echo, Erica Scott will officially receive the Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award: Elementary Level from the AATSP during the organization’s awards banquet on July 8 in Chicago.

The elementary level of the award covers teachers who teach students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

Ocean Springs Middle School Principal Adelle Register said Scott’s contributions to OSMS and its students highlight the reasons Scott was nominated for and received this award.

“Mrs. Scott has been asset to our foreign language department,” Register said. “She always maintains a positive attitude and demonstrates superb qualities in the classroom to engage and challenge her students.”

Scott, who just completed her first year at OSMS, has taught Spanish for a total of 11 years.  This past school year, Scott taught Introduction to Foreign Language and Spanish 1.  As part of the award application process, Scott wrote as to how she loved seeing the lightbulb moments occur with her students, which can make teaching the introductory levels of a foreign language so exciting.

“My favorite is the introductory level because I love seeing kids going from only speaking English to becoming an emergent Spanish speaker,” Scott said.

The AATSP promotes the study and teaching of the Spanish and Portuguese languages and their corresponding Hispanic, Luso-Brazilian and other related literatures and cultures at all levels of education. The AATSP encourages, supports and directs programs and research projects involving the exchange of pedagogical and scholarly information. Through extensive collaboration with educators, professionals, and institutions in other countries, the AATSP contributes to a better and deeper understanding between the United States and the Spanish-and Portuguese-speaking nations of the world.

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Moss Point Places in National Competition

18581823_1089467481183916_2131527646179285093_n-300x214 Moss Point Places in National CompetitionThe Moss Point STEM Team recently competed in the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHTO) National Bridge Engineering Competition in Portland, Maine.  Team members applied math and science concepts to real life problems engineer’s face in the transportation industry as they conducted action research, designed a 3D model bridge with CAD software, tested the 3D model bridge with a simulation program, and constructed a model bridge out of balsa wood. The competition consisted of three categories: Design Portfolio, PowerPoint Presentation, and Bridge Design Efficiency. 

Initially, AASHTO provided middle and high school students across the nation with a TRAC Challenge Entry Kit, bridge building materials, and competition guidelines to construct a bridge. Each participating team was required to submit a Design Portfolio including their final bridge design. Based on their Design Portfolio, qualifying teams were then selected to compete at nationals. 

During nationals, teams conducted PowerPoint presentations and tested their bridge for strength to weight ratio. Cash prizes were given to the top three teams. In their very first attempt at the national competition, the Moss Point STEM Team won second place in the 11th/12th grade division and fourth place in the 9th/10th grade division.

“We would like to thank Steven Nelson, Wess McMillan, and Danny Juarez from Chevron for their support during this competition for the last three years and to Singing River Electric for providing the funds to purchase our Pitsco Structure Testing Instrument” said Mr. Carroll.  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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PGSD offers free summer meals

In an effort to reduce childhood hunger in the community, the Pascagoula-Gautier School District Child Nutrition Department is offering free summer meals at three select locations in the district.

Through June and July, breakfast and lunch will be served to anyone under the age of 18 years at cost with no registration required.

Breakfast will be served from 7:30 until 8:30 a.m., and lunch from 11 a.m. until noon. 

The following locations will offer free summer meals through select dates:

  • Gautier Elementary
    • May 30- July 27 (Tuesday through Thursday only)
  • Jackson Elementary
    • May 30- July 27 (Tuesday through Thursday only)
  • Pascagoula Opportunity Center
    • June 1- June 30 (Monday through Friday )

For more information about summer feeding, click here.

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Teacher lays foundation for academic career

Mrs.-Young Teacher lays foundation for academic career

It seems like kindergarten used to just be nap time, the alphabet and chocolate milk. However, times have changed, and children are expected to know so much more, from computer skills to narrative writing. Considering for some children it is their first time in a classroom, it is a lot to learn in a year. This is where teachers like Margaret Young come in.

“I have been teaching kindergarten at Gautier Elementary School for 10 years now,” Young said. “Before that I taught 2nd grade for two years.”

As a kindergarten teacher, Margaret works to make her classroom a fun learning environment.

“I have tried to foster a family relationship in my classroom,” she explained. “We do a lot of talking and sharing of feelings and emotions and ideas. We do learning through music, movements and gestures to help the students remember the lessons. I have learning centers to incorporate art and games to make them want to learn.”

Making learning engaging for the students can make it easier for them to learn the more challenging coursework.

“The work is very rigorous now, so that’s why I try to make it fun,” Young said. “Now they are writing narratives and informational text by the end of the year. They know how to read data because they have to do that on the computer every day. It is more challenging now than in previous years. We in Mississippi were falling behind in education in the nation, but now we have some of the most rigorous standards so we can catch up. It’s a lot of work, and there are tears from the kids, but they are excited to learn.”

Margaret was inspired to be a teacher by one of life’s first role models: her mother.

Mrs.-Young Teacher lays foundation for academic career
Mrs.-Young Teacher lays foundation for academic career

“My mom was as assistant teacher who worked in kindergarten and special education, so I’ve always been in that environment,” she recalled. “I’ve always loved little kids, even when I was a little kid. I’ve always sort of had this parental instinct and used to pretend to play teacher. I’ve also had some really great teachers, especially one of my math teachers at Colmer Middle School. I was having trouble in math, and she would always work with me and stay with me after school without getting paid anything extra to help me.”

As a kindergarten teacher, Margaret is often working with students who have never been in a classroom environment before.

“I would say my class is about half and half,” she said. “Some kids how been in a pre-k class or Head Start program, but it is an even split between those children and the children who are coming straight from home. They do cry the first few weeks because they miss being at home, but we use that time to teach them the rules and routines to make them more comfortable in the classroom. At that age, children really want to please you and do the right thing. The only challenge comes in that there’s 24 students to teach everything to between just my assistant and myself. But they see the reward, so they want to learn.”

As the school year comes to an end, it is once again time for the students to say good bye to Ms. Young as they move to the 1st grade.

Mrs.-Young Teacher lays foundation for academic career

“In these last few weeks, I’m trying to make sure they are excited to move on and prepare them for the 1st grade,” Young explained. “I know all of the teachers they are moving to, so I’m not worried about them having a good experience next year. I’m happy to see how they’ve grown.”

Mrs.-Young Teacher lays foundation for academic career


Pay it Forward Fridays:

JaxCoHome would love to hear about people doing good in our community. If you know someone that is a champion for our community, the environment, education or local business, fill out the nomination form by clicking here.

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Jackson County celebrates high school graduates

The month of May means Mother’s Day, Memorial Day weekend, and graduations.

High schools across Jackson County are celebrating their graduating seniors and their achievements.

Resurrection Catholic School had 33 students graduate this May.

Gautier High School has 197 students graduating, with Gabrielle Humber selected as class valedictorian and Elizabeth Holliday as salutatorian.

Pascagoula High School’s class of 265 students has Amelia Lawrence as valedictorian and Caroline Ko as salutatorian.

Moss Point High School has 129 students graduating, with Kennadi Johnson selected as class valedictorian and Niya Cooper as salutatorian.

St. Martin High School’s class of 279 students has Alyssa Britton as valedictorian and Katlyn Scott as salutatorian. 

East Central High School has 180 students graduating, with Sarah Eyre as valedictorian and Jenna Broadus as salutatorian.

Vancleave High School’s class of 173 students has Brandon Jerrod Scott as valedictorian and Emily Chappell as salutatorian.

Ocean Springs High School has a class of 399 students, with Leah Dudte as valedictorian and Molly Harback as salutatorian.

Congratulations to all of the Jackson County high school graduates!

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St. Martin places in STEM competition

School might be wrapping up, but for some students at St. Martin High School, that didn’t mean it was time to take it easy. 

Two teams from St. Martin competed Saturday. in Chevron/Project Lead The Way Design Challenge at the University of New Orleans.


IMG_1770 St. Martin places in STEM competition


“Project Lead the Way is a project-based STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) curriculum,” said Mr. Richard Humphreys, who is in charge of the St. Martin teams. “Students solve real-world type problems during each of the courses. St. Martin High School offers Introduction to Engineering Design, Computer Integrated Manufacturing, and Principles of Engineering. Next year we will take on a Computer Science course as well.

“We are indebted to Chevron for seeing the value in our students and greatly supporting our programs. They have sponsored open houses for PLTW students, provided practicing engineers to share their knowledge and expertise with students in the classroom, and they have funded much of the PLTW program for the schools that have chosen to offer it. Chevron has been a great patron to our program.”

During the competition, teams were given a challenge and had to work together to create an original design. They had to submit sketches, Autodesk Inventor drawings, and develop a short presentation to pitch their design. 

“For this activity the students were asked to solve real-world problem that included designing a stand for bridge safety signs for the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway,” Humphreys explained. “They were given the challenge criteria. Each team went about solving the problem using the design process and then presented their solution to an auditorium full of their peers, engineering educators, and engineers. For this challenge, students needed to think on their feet and present the results of their work. The skills that these students applied for this competition included the design process, technical sketching, computer aided designing, and presentation skills. Teachers were sequestered during the challenge and were only able to converse with/coach/mentor the team during lunch. The St. Martin STEAM Teams did great at the competition. Our Jackets STEAM Team Y won 3rd place for their entry.”

The skills brought to the team by each individual member helped bring them this success.

“The students on my team are a great bunch,” Humphreys explained. “The majority of this group is interested in pursuing engineering when they leave high school, so this is a great fit for them. They are all strong in math and enjoy problem solving. All of them have been a part our robotics team, have gone to a state competition for robotics, and some of them have participated in VEX Robotics Worlds competition.”

Even though this competition came late in the school year, Humphreys is already looking ahead for the future of the St. Martin teams.

“Everyone who participated in the design challenge is part of The Jackets STEAM Team, St Martin High School’s STEM club. The STEAM Team has many activities that students can participate in,” Humphreys said. “I hope that I can get more students involved in the Chevron Design challenge. It was a little late this school year, and with all of the out of town family in for graduation, it was tough getting many students to participate. It was a lot of fun and students who did participate are chatting it up with other STEAM Team members who are now sorry that they could not make it to the event.”

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Administrator serves her school, soap box derby

ski-2_549x768 Administrator serves her school, soap box derby

Education is a true time commitment. As educator is responsible for numerous children for a large portion of the day, not only in teaching them, but also for their well being. Being a teacher responsible for up to 30 students is daunting enough, so one can only imagine the stresses of being a principal for an entire campus.

“I supervise the 460 children and 50 adults every day,” said Susan Stachowski, principal of Magnolia Middle School in Moss Point. “I am responsible for monitoring grades, instruction, attendance, behavior, everything.

There are moments I think “Oh goodness, I’m responsible for that building and everything in it.’ However, Dr. Vincent believed in me, and I won’t let her down.” 

Stachowski is completing her second year as principal of Magnolia Middle School. She was previously a teacher at Magnolia Middle School from 1994-2000 teaching English and Career Discovery, and has returned after 16 years at Colmer Middle School in Pascagoula.

“It’s exciting to be back home and back where I feel like i’m making a difference,” she mentioned.

Spending so many years in education, Stachowski has opportunities to see her students evolve and grow outside of the classroom.

“I enjoyed teaching Career Discovery because it was fun helping children prepare for the future,” Stachowski said. “I remember one student I taught my first year loved science, and now he actually works as my Science Department chair.”

Even though it is only her second year back in the district, Stachowski was named this year’s Administrator of the Year for Moss Point schools, showing that is she is making strides early on. 

Even with her work in administration, meaning she does not get to enjoy the upcoming summer break, Stachowski still makes time to be part of the committee that organizes the annual Deborah Washington Memorial Soap Box Derby

“It all started when my son was 10, and as a reference his is now 23,” Stachowski recalled. “Years ago some friends that were doing the derby said come do it with them, and that’s how we got involved. My children haven’t raced in 8 years, but we’ve always been part of the race. It’s become our family community service.”

Originally known as the Magnolia State Soap Box Derby, the event’s name was changed to honor Deborah Washington after she lost her battle with breast cancer. Washington started the event in 1992, and was a beloved Chevron Refinery employee known for her active community involvement.

“I love what the derby does for the city and for the children,” Stachowski said. “I believe in it and want it to continue. My children had a great experience with it, and the friendships I’ve created with the people on that committee mean the world to me. I love the people I work with. We all have a real passion for what we do because none of us on the committee still have children who race. We also enjoy keeping Deborah’s memory alive with the race, and we on the committee consider ourselves ‘Deb’s Angles.'”

Stachowski stays involved in the derby race because of all the unique experiences it offers children in the community.

“You get lots of experiences because winners of the race get to go to Akron, Ohio to compete in the soap box derby there against racers from all over the world,” Stachowski said. 

Another aspect of the races that helps to keep Stachowski involved is her family.

“This is our family community service,” Stachowski explained. “Both of my kids raced but now they are too old for it, but we still stay involved and help with the races each year. In 2006 we were actually honored as the National Soap Box Derby family for that year. It’s truly a family affair.”

With all that Stachowski does in her professional and volunteer life, it is clear she works hard to make Moss Point a gem of Jackson County.

Pay it Forward Fridays:

JaxCoHome would love to hear about people doing good in our community. If you know someone that is a champion for our community, the environment, education or local business, fill out the nomination form by clicking here.

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PGSD Athletics Gets An Overhaul

The Pascagoula-Gautier School District is making major improvements to War Memorial Stadium in Pascagoula and Vaughn-Wallace Stadium in Gautier in anticipation of the upcoming school year.

     The plans include new field turf at both stadiums as well as a track straight away at Gautier as part of the practice track. For Pascagoula, stadium restrooms are receiving a facelift as well as new track and remodeling a dressing room for the girls’ soccer team. Painting and sealing the bleachers, renovations underneath the visitors’ side of the stadium and a new press box on the home side are also part of the summer plans.

     Other projects include painting the exterior of the Panther baseball field house, refurbishing the tennis courts at South Field, painting the South Field house and new sidewalks, bleachers and concession stand at South Field. Renovations for both football fields is $3.4 million with other venue improvements valued at $1.8 million.

     “These projects are among some of goals of the district’s 2017-2021 five-year strategic plan,” said Superintendent Wayne Rodolfich. “This strategic plan was written by 250 community members and school district employees. Improvements at both stadiums was one of the goals for members of the athletic strategic planning committee.”

     Rodolfich said the improvements to the stadiums will benefit not only those who come to watch the various sporting events, but those who use the field including the football team, lacrosse, team, soccer teams, band and cheerleaders as well as the members of the track team.

     “The new turf will provide a consistently-level playing field which will dry quickly, and the improvements will give our stadiums a cleaner, high-quality appearance,” Rodolfich said. “We moved our high school graduations to the Mississippi Coast Coliseum this year so we could go ahead and begin work on these stadium improvements and be ready in time for football season. There’s been a great deal of excitement throughout the community about the projects.”

Gautier-HS-Football-Soccer-Drawing-skinny-both-blue-end-zone PGSD Athletics Gets An Overhaul Gautier-HS-Football-Soccer-Drawing-skinny-both-blue-end-zone PGSD Athletics Gets An Overhaul

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Reserve educator brings lessons to life

ranew-of-grand-bay-nerrjpg-9b532ce4cb680837 Reserve educator brings lessons to life

Teachers and educators do what they do not for themselves, but for future generations. Teachers prepare children to be adults and the impact they will have on the world, and one of Jackson County’s educators who really take this duty to heart is Rick Ranew.

As the education specialist at the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Ranew works with other staff members to design and implement programs that address current coastal issues on the school level from kindergarten to 12th grade.

“This is a job I’ve always wanted to have,” Ranew said. “What I do, basically, is that I develop curriculums for students kindergarten through 12th grade that deals with environmental science. I work alongside my staff. They do research, and I do everything from water sheds to estuaries to water quality to wetlands and litter.” 

Not only is Ranew able to educate any visitors to the Grand Bay NERR about the local environment and the impact they have on nature, but he also takes opportunities to visit Jackson County schools and bring the lessons to the classroom.

“I’ve gone on the road to schools that can’t come here,” he explained. “I just visited East Central Middle School, and I work to talk about what they are already covering in their classes.”

ranew-of-grand-bay-nerrjpg-9b532ce4cb680837 Reserve educator brings lessons to life

Classes that are able to take a field trip to the reserve are able to have Rick bring the lesson to life. They are able to actually see and experience what they are learning, and the visiting science teachers see the value in these visits.

“Once again, we have not been disappointed,” said Deborah Richardson, a 4th grade teacher at Escatawpa Upper Elementary School in Moss Point. “Our field trip to the Grand Bay NERR on April 28, was outstanding. Mr. Rick Ranew and his volunteer were so kind and knowledgable. The students and teachers truly enjoyed the experience. Some of the students who participated had this to say: ‘It was fantastic; the hike along the boardwalk was fun.’ ‘I liked the scavenger hunt and the animals we got to see.’ ‘It was especially exciting to see the osprey nest and deer tracks.’

As the website states, ‘The Education Program of the Grand Bay NERR is integrated program of life-long learning opportunities designed to educate a variety of audiences on the importance of wisely caring for estuary, or coastal resources.’ Our students here at Moss Point Escatawpa Upper, due to the social economic makeup of the community, do not get the do not get the opportunity to visit such sites on their own. It is only through the generous offers that are funded by the state we are able to adventure out to our own backyard and participate in the k-16 Community Educational Program. Being able to visit the many habitats of the reserve as living laboratories and classrooms truly brings it to life for the students. To experience a field trip to the Grand Bay NERR first-hand is a once in a lifetime opportunity is not only educational, but thrilling for these students. As a teacher, it’s priceless to be able to take our students to a world that we know they’ll never be able to experience on their own.

Again, thank you for a memorable educational experience at the Grand Bay NERR in Moss Point, Mississippi.”

ranew-of-grand-bay-nerrjpg-9b532ce4cb680837 Reserve educator brings lessons to life

Not only will Ranew take student visitors, but he enjoys teaching those of all ages.

“I recently had veterans come out, and I gave them a tour,” Ranew said. “We’re going to have them come back out in the fall for fishing. I also do a program during the summer where I take retired people and put them together with some students, and it allows students to tap into the wisdom of these senior citizens. I’m all about inspiring and enthusiasm.”

The passion for his work is clear to anyone who has the chance to speak to Ranew. 

“I love what I’m doing. It’s not that I have to do it, I get to do it, he explained. “I’m 63 and retirement isn’t in my vocabulary. I want to inspire future generations to become good stewards of the coastal habitats, knowing that seafood comes from estuaries and rivers. I encourage them, especially young ladies, to go into science. Our best scientists are young ladies on staff. I am very passionate of taking care of what we’ve got. And one day they will be one ones making decisions for the coast. If I can inspire one student when I have a group out here, I’ve done my job.”

The impact he has on his students is a lasting one, as some visitors will even say that want to grow up to be like Rick Ranew.

ranew-of-grand-bay-nerrjpg-9b532ce4cb680837 Reserve educator brings lessons to life
ranew-of-grand-bay-nerrjpg-9b532ce4cb680837 Reserve educator brings lessons to life


Pay it Forward Fridays:

JaxCoHome would love to hear about people doing good in our community. If you know someone that is a champion for our community, the environment, education or local business, fill out the nomination form by clicking here.

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