It was about five years ago when the Meridian Public School District first announced plans to establish at least four small learning communities at Meridian High. Fast forward to the present, and this year the first of those communities is being launched in earnest with a strong partnership between the school district, two local hospitals and Meridian Community College.
This fall, the Meridian Public School District will be one of only two school district's in Mississippi to have a Health Small Learning Community.
'The high school will be a smaller version of a university. When you get to the high school, you'll join your school or college,' says MPSD Superintendent, Dr. Alvin Taylor.
This fall 45 students from the 9th grade at MHS are slated to enter the program.
'They will be grouped together in their academic classes, their biology, English and their math,' says Terry Moore, who is director for Ross Collins Vocational Center. 'Those students will have the same teacher each year. So, what it does is make it more personal for them.'
For students enrolled in the Health Small Learning Community at MHS, Moore says all of their 9th through 12th grade curriculum will be geared towards the healthcare field.
'If you write a paper in English, it's going to be geared toward something to do with the medical career. This will be the same with math.'
According to district officials, studies show that grouping students who have the same interest in classes together helps improve students' grades. Officials are optimistic that this strategy will also help improve the graduation rate and career opportunities for students.
'What Anderson Hospital and Rush Hospital have guaranteed us is that if students do this and they can put this on their resume' when they apply at those hospitals, it's going to make a big difference for them about whether they will be considered for those jobs or not,' says Moore.
So far, the Rankin County School District is the only other school district in Mississippi to have a Health Small Learning Community.