Peasant gives district update at Rotary

Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District Superintendent Eddie Peasant speaks at the Starkville Rotary Club meeting Monday. (Photo by Charlie Benton, SDN)

Staff Writer

A new strategic plan, the ongoing Partnership School project and the arrival of iPads for district students and teachers were among the items discussed when Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District Superintendent Eddie Peasant addressed the Starkville Rotary Club on Monday.

Peasant is in his second year leading the district after being selected to replace former Superintendent Lewis Holloway, who retired in 2017. Peasant has also served as principal of Clinton High School, principal of Gulfport Central Middle School and assistant superintendent of the Tupelo Public School District. He also serves on several state advisory boards, including the Mississippi Department of Education’s Middle School Task Force and Student Testing Task Force. He also serves on the Mississippi Association of School Administrators Board of Directors and the Program of Research and Evaluation for Public Schools. He holds degrees from the University of Southern Mississippi and Mississippi College.

“The mission of our school district is to achieve excellence by facilitating the development of each student’s passion, purpose and potential,” Peasant said. “At the center is our belief that excellent public schools are the heartbeat of a thriving community, and it’s our responsibility to receive a personalized education in a student-centered, 21st century learning environment.”

The strategic plan was unveiled prior to the start of the district’s 2018-2019 school year, and serves as the guide for every move the district will make over the next five years.

Earlier this month, the district received 2,000 iPads it is leasing from Apple, at a cost of approximately $800,000 over the four years of the lease. The iPads will be used by teachers and students in the classroom, primarily at the secondary level.

“Our students, as many of you know, are digital natives,” Peasant said. “They were born with the internet in their pockets. They engage daily with the global community. It’s our responsibility to connect with them and meet students where we are to create meaningful, relevant learning experiences for them.”

However, Peasant emphasized that good teaching was still the most important factor for student success in the classroom, even with the addition of technology.

”We understand that, but it will enhance the learning process, but it will enhance the way that they learn,” Peasant said.

Earlier in January, the district distributed 600 iPads to teachers at Armstrong Middle School, Starkville High School, Henderson Ward Stewart Elementary School and The Learning Center.

Peasant also discussed the beginning of the academic institutes at SHS, with students having the option to go into one of three different houses based on their aspirations starting in fall 2019. The three houses include technology, health and human services and communications, art and business.

“We plan to create a high school where all of our students are supported and prepared for a successful future,” Peasant said.

Peasant also invited members of the Rotary Club to collaborate with the district through offering internships, serving as guest speakers and otherwise sharing its resources and talents.

Peasant then discussed the Partnership School project currently under construction on the Mississippi State University campus. The school is funded by the district, MSU and the state of Mississippi. Once complete, it will house all sixth and seventh graders in the district and serve as a laboratory and training ground for the MSU College of Education.

“All of our sixth and seventh graders will attend this 128,000-square-foot school that is designed to maximize hands-on learning opportunities with easy access to academic and cultural resources on campus,” Peasant said.

Athletic Director Cheyenne Trussell also gave a short presentation on Yellow Jacket athletics. He discussed recent successes of teams, and emphasized the importance of academics along with athletics. He said more than 600 students district-wide competed on sports teams.

He also emphasized the importance of setting the right tone with student athletes.

“It’s extremely important for our kids and their behavior and everything else, to set it in the way which we would like,” Trussell said.