Spirited Academic Competitions Inspire Future Educators Rising at Mississippi College
Hundreds of the brightest high school students from public schools throughout the state will visit Mississippi College Feb. 22-23 to participate in an annual academic competition, as part of a Mississippi State Department of Education initiative.
Educators Rising is a career and technical student organization that provides support, networking opportunities, and a strong, structured curriculum to help learners prepare for their future professions. The group’s sponsored competition gives students a sense of achievement and an opportunity to obtain scholarship funds to attend any college of their choice in the state.
Jennifer Stafford, professor and chair of the Department of Teacher Education and Leadership at MC, said the program’s goal is to bring students onto a college campus and give them a clearer picture of how they could continue their education after high school.
“The Mississippi State Department of Education strives to work with students throughout the state to familiarize them with university offerings,” Stafford said. “Many of the students that we’re welcoming to Clinton have never visited MC. (MC School of Education) Dean (Cindy) Melton and our entire school are very excited for this opportunity.”
She said many of the participants square off in highly competitive academic contests against their peers from other schools in subjects ranging from poetry and short story writing to debate, science and mathematics.
“The students receive the parameters for their elected competition in advance,” she said. “They may take tests in certain subjects or give live presentations. Some may have already submitted papers and are come to the event to have them critiqued. The statewide scholarships provide a nice incentive.”
MC faculty and staff, teachers from local schools, and retired educators and businesspeople will serve as judges.
“We’re focused on giving students the information they need to make good decisions about their future,” she said. “We hope they will want to attend MC once they’ve had the opportunity to come onto our campus.
“We want them to take away from the event that Mississippi College is a great place to further their education.”
On Thursday, MC President Blake Thompson will welcome the students to MC. On Friday, Michael Highfield, provost and executive vice president, and Michael Wright, dean of enrollment management, will greet the students before lunch. Judge Henry T. Wingate of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi will deliver a keynote address that afternoon. The award winners and scholarship recipients will be recognized Friday evening.
Throughout the event, the high schoolers will tour the Clinton campus, participate in social activities with MC students, and engage with representatives from different educational departments who will share information about their respective courses of study. The guests will also be treated to performances by MC’s Band.
“During the time they’re not engaged in their own competition, the students will visit the Leland Speed Library, the Caf, and all the places on campus that are important in the lives of students at MC,” Stafford said. “They’ll have the opportunity to compete, learn, and have fun.”
They will also get to learn about valuable educational opportunities at Mississippi College, including the Speed Scholarship, which makes MC’s exceptional Christian education attainable for qualified residents of Mississippi.
“We don’t want students to look at a college education at MC as something that’s financially out of reach,” Stafford said. “We want them to be keenly aware of the options they have by the time they leave our campus.”
She said Educators Rising selected Mississippi College to host this year’s event because Clinton provides the ideal, centrally located campus for an academic competition of this magnitude.
“Furthermore, the School of Education’s Recruitment Committee investigated how we could become involved with Educators Rising,” she said. “It is one of several important areas of outreach for students in P-12 education that the Mississippi Department of Education sponsors.”
She considers Educators Rising to be a great opportunity for the University to demonstrate to students that Mississippi College can be the place for them.
“We want to make sure they know that students are always welcome on our campus,” Stafford said. “They don’t have to come here just for this event. They can make an appointment while they’re here to come back, become engaged with MC’s recruitment team, and learn more about our academic departments and offerings on campus.”