Tuesday, July 29, 2014

2014 Annual Stockholders and Parents Meeting

This was the Head of School's report at the 2014 Annual Meeting of Stockholders and Parents...

I am very blessed to be beginning my 34th year at MHS. We are all very busy and excited about the new school year.

Currently, we have 593 Students enrolled and anticipate over 600 when we open next Friday.  So far this year we have 67 new students with a 94% retention rate from last year's enrollment.

In May, we graduated 53 seniors. 100% of the graduating seniors received college scholarship offers worth in excess of $2.8 million. Seven in the class scored 29 or above on the ACT, and we currently have 13 students with a 29 or above on their ACT.

We talk a lot about technology, but only as a tool to use in the classroom, not as a replacement for good sound teaching. I am very pleased with the job that Allyson Mitchell, the Elementary Principal, and Brooke Howell, the Academic Dean is doing with the supervision and professional development of the faculty and staff. Our teachers have been very receptive.  After all, they want to be the best they can be for our students and your children.

Part of the busy summer we've had is due to our strategic technology initiative called in-house. Partnering with Apple, this initiative will put an Apple device (MacBook, iPad, or iTouch) in the hands of each MHS student over the next few years. This fall we will add our 9th graders to the MHS students currently using the 11" Apple MacBook Air laptops (Grades 9-12). As last year, these devices will be used in the classrooms, as well as taken home each night. Throughout the summer the teachers have participated in several professional development workshops like summit in Atlanta, GA to learn about authors, books, Google docs, Google drive, as well as many other apps to integrate technology in the classroom. This fall, we are rolling out Canvas, the Learning Management System (LMS) currently used in all of Mississippi's public universities and community colleges. This portal will place each student's course in a single site where they can submit work, take tests, and participate in collaborative exercises like discussion boards. We already have online and blended classes at MHS, which provides excellent training for our students entering the post-secondary world. Our ACT Prep class required of all 11th graders is one of our blended classes (Hybrid teacher and online). Our Financial Principles class was the first class offered as an online class at MHS (3 years ago), and our Honors History seminar was added just this this past year.

Last year, in an effort to embrace communication, we rolled out our MHS iPhone and Android app. We also initiated a school-wide SMS messaging to instantly deliver text messages for those interested in having information texted to their phone. The MHS website will also soon have a new look, and I encourage you to look at the promotional video produced by our 10th-grade project-based learning class last semester currently posted on the site. The video was produced in its entirety by the students in the class.

I think this is going to be a quantum leap for us when the strategic plan is fully implemented. Our graduates are already required to have 21st century skills such as creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, communication, and collaboration once they enter college and the workforce. Our littlest Chiefs will graduate (Class of 2029) into a world that utilizes technology in ways we can't even imagine. To help our students' transition into this new paradigm of teaching and learning, our faculty will continue to mix our traditional teaching methods with new projects and inquiry based learning over the next few years.

I'm also excited that MHS is the first school in this area to rollout this sort of program. We have always been leaders not only to other independent schools, but also for education as a whole. Certain projects such as our 1:1 Technology Initiative solidifies our role as an innovator, as well as a leader.
Still, this is not enough. As part of our accreditation with SACS and SAIS, we are required to submit a new school improvement plan every 5 years. This fall we will begin preparation for our Fall 2015 visit. The goals and objectives, we develop must be addressed over the next two years and each year thereafter until our next visit. As part of this process, all stakeholders of the school will be offered the opportunity to evaluate our programs through surveys or interviews with the visiting team.

In the area of safety and security, additional video cameras are being installed, and access will be restricted to certain doors. Video cameras have been placed at entrances to Mini-Magnolia and Baker Hall. Training is ongoing with our faculty and staff to provide a more safe and secure campus.

We are all looking forward to a great year. I want to encourage you to get involved. There are no booster clubs to join because as MHS parents you are already members of the Parents' Club and Chief's Club. Just look for opportunities to serve and get involved with your child's class or your athlete's team. We always need your help.

Thank you again for the opportunity to serve as your head of school.