Louisville Municipal School District and Winston County Journal, East Central Community College, Boys & Girls Club, Mississippi Scholars, City Officials, Winston County Librarian

Duration of partnership: 2 years
11 volunteers
Impacts 365 students

In July 2009 the Louisville Municipal School District was contacted by the Winston County Economic Development District Partnership (WCEDDP) office about applying for a grant offered by the Mississippi Higher Education Initiative (MS-HEI). The funds from this grant would be used to encourage students to stay in school and continue post-secondary education and/or technical training. Applying for this grant would be a step in benefiting all students in our area, especially our at-risk ones. This was a win-win decision for our county since educated citizens are the key to economic development.
With combined efforts from personnel at Winston-Louisville Career and Technology Center and Louisville High School, the “Getcha Head in the Game” grant was written. This name was chosen because LHS had won back-to-back 3A state football championships but were losing in the game of higher education. The lack of students receiving post-secondary education and/or technical training combined with an alarming dropout rate (5th in the state) was of great concern for our county. We wanted to relate that same sense of success to our schools’ academic and graduation records.
We were awarded the MS-HEI grant in the amount of $10,000, and it was renewed for the same amount the following year. Implementing this grant was a unified effort to educate, guide and encourage our students to know a higher education was possible and expected. A committee was formed including individuals from various groups in our area. Included were representatives from the WCEDDP, the Louisville Municipal School District, East Central Community College, city leaders (mayor and alderman), community business leaders, Boys and Girls Club, local librarian, and our local newspaper editor.
Academic tutoring was provided for students who had failed to pass state tests required for graduation. Educational Services Foundation presented programs to juniors and seniors on college planning. Two-day ACT workshop. PLAN test was ordered and given to every 10th grader in the LMSD. All seniors were given the opportunity to visit college campuses. All juniors toured ECCC Career Advancement Center to learn about workforce education and job opportunities. 300 “Getcha Head in the Game” t-shirts given to students showing initiative for college. Mississippi Scholars dinner, Star Student party, college savings awards for top scores on skills tests.
Senior Exit Surveys were filled out both years, with the majority of the students either going on to college or to a skills‟ training school. Just last week, WCEDDP received data from Gregg Harper‟s congressional office citing an increase in the percentage of students from LMSD who are going to college. In 2009 it was 44% and in 2011 it was 84%! There has been a marked increase in the number of students at LHS who are taking the ACT. GED class enrollment has increased.