County school leaders embark on new initiative

By JAMIE PATTERSON,

A partnership has developed among the Yazoo County School District and the community it serves during the tenure of Dr. Ken Barron.

And it’s a partnership meant to be.

Barron credits the recent success behind the county school district with the incredible amount of support it has received from its board, staff, students, families and community as a whole. As the district enters new territories with updated models and new initiatives, the foundation set by everyone working together will prove to be a cornerstone for a new era.

“Yazoo County School District has amazing students who work hard and desire a successful life, and we have many parents and community members who are incredibly supportive of our young people,” Barron said. “We are also blessed with a group of faculty and staff members who are passionate about helping our students achieve above and beyond their goals and dreams.”

The district recently saw 103 graduates earn their high school diplomas. And the success behind many programs over the past school year can attribute to that reward.

Student and Teacher Advisory Committees were formed to meet with Barron monthly to provide input from other perspectives. The overall appearance of the school sites improved thanks to privatizing the custodial and maintenance services to ABM Corporation. And three school resource officers were hired, and the Yazoo County School District Police Department was also established to improve safety and security.

Several academic programs were also implemented over the last year, including Phonics First for the district’s kindergarten and first grade classes. Almost 75 percent of the district’s third grade students passed the state reading assessment, with almost 90 percent passing the re-tests. And the number of students enrolled in the Dual Credit Courses through Holmes Community College increased to 60, taking over 100 courses.

“We also partnered with CF Industries to promote our students’ success on the ACT 20+ club with over 40 students qualifying for membership in the club,” Barron said. “The partnership also yielded a new sound system for our football field and basketball gym.”

Within extracurricular activities, the Beta Clubs enjoyed great success with Linwood School and Yazoo County High School qualifying for National Competitions.  The Yazoo County Band performed at a New Orleans Saints pre-season football game in August, in Band Competition in Copiah County and multiple parades. 

“Our band is growing exponentially,” Barron said. “We also implemented Color Guard this year.”

Athletically, the district made headlines last year with its accomplishments.

“Another new initiative was to increase our extra-curricular offerings in 2019 by adding Girls and Boys Cross Country teams, Girls and Boys Tennis teams and Girls and Boys Golf teams,” Barron said.

Other athletic accomplishments include:

• Won district in Boys and Girls Basketball, Baseball

• Finished second in Girls Softball

• Playoffs in football

• The YCHS Boys Basketball team won their first 30 games and competed in the state 3A Tournament in the Jackson Coliseum.  There was a great outpouring of support by the students, parents, businesses of the community and local elected officials. 

• YCHS Girls Track team won District and Region titles

• Thirteen qualifiers for state track meet between the Boys and Girls teams. 

• YCHS Boys 4x400 team placed second in 3A state

• YCHS Girls 4x200 won the North State 3A event. 

• YCHS Boys Cross Country had a top five finisher in 3A meet. 

• YCHS Powerlifting team had a state champion in the 275-pound weight class. 

• This was the first year for district cheerleaders to compete in the State Cheer Competition.

Barron said he is very excited about the upcoming school year and the many new programs that will be implemented in several different areas. A new teacher mentoring program will be established, the dress code will be updated, club offerings will increase from Chess to Drama to Honor Choir, and instructional methods will improve.

“We are also making plans to add Middle School Baseball, Middle School Softball and Varsity Girls and Boys Soccer for the 2020 school year,” Barron added.

Much of the future has been positively impacted by the district embarking on the Strategic Planning Initiative, which began last January.

“We held two committee meetings with members of the community, school administration, teachers, students and parents to create a mission statement, community beliefs and goals and goal statements,” Barron said. “Going forward this will be the cornerstone of all decisions made by the YCSD.”

Barron said the Initiative has been positive for the district. The key areas of focus include student achievement, human resources, operational effectiveness and safe and orderly climate.

“We have a phenomenal group of faculty and staff, led by caring and compassionate leadership who are working with great kids,” Barron said. “Our school board is extremely supportive and parents care and work to provide their students with the greatest opportunities available.   Using the Strategic Goals, every member of the team must pull together and produce passionate results to create next generation leaders.”