May Community Award Spotlight: Grenada School District

Every day, members of our communities rise to meet unexpected challenges. From children to parents and from caregivers to businesses, we have all been asked to step up and become leaders. We’ve faced and pivoted to adapt and grow through our everchanging world due to unforeseen events that affect our daily lives. No action is too small, and together our impact is large.

Your actions should be recognized and celebrated. Our communities are the foundation of our society, and we stand stronger together. PLTW is proud to celebrate diverse communities and its members who exhibit collaboration, leadership, and entrepreneurship in service across the nation. As a result, we have created the PLTW Community Celebration Awards to recognize communities that have come together to care for each other in times of need. Join us in celebrating the following community this month!

Grenada School District serves approximately 4,000 students in Grenada, Mississippi. The district is at the center of a community of individuals, businesses, and institutions that are vested in the welfare and vitality of the community.

“We are fortunate to have many community groups, families, businesses, and industries work with the schools in Grenada to support learning,” Grenada School District Superintendent Dr. David Daigneault said. “Our commitment to working together fosters positive changes in the student's everyday experience. In this environment students tend to do better in school, stay in school longer, and like school more. We know that education improves lives and improves communities.” 

This community mindset is in the district’s Partners in Education program, which was established in 1980 and has forged business and industry relationships over the last four decades.

Community is evident in The Kidzeum, built in 1995 as the first full-scale school-based children’s museum in the U.S. The Kidzeum has intriguing exhibits and engaging learning activities set in a grocery store, a bank, and a kitchen. It was recognized by Business Week magazine as the “Top Rural Elementary School” in the nation and received the Governor’s Award for outstanding School-Community Partnerships.

Armed with research supporting exceptional education outcomes for early education, the district added an experiential Learning Blocks Collaborative for PreK students in 2015 – one of the first in the state. The following year, the district implemented PLTW in every school and linked PLTW programs to local business and industry. These ambitious, student-centered actions were factors central to the State Board of Education recognizing the district as a District of Innovation in 2017.

As the pandemic grew closer to home, the district ensured that students would continue their education. They were transparent at every step as plans for virtual, hybrid, and traditional learning were formed. From drive-through graduations to safe summer camps to a flexible food distribution program, the district celebrated student achievement and met their needs.

For in-school learning, the district constructed safety partitions in the classrooms, created safe-distancing learning environments, updated air filtration systems, established cleaning protocols, and made sure that teachers had face shields and masks. Students received computers; however, since only 63 percent of the households have internet, equitable access required more than devices. The district provided public hotspots in parking lots and personal hotspots for students and teachers for virtual learning. The district also created engaging videos of teachers teaching, which were made for all standards and were distributed on thumb drives and in a virtual library.

“Real teachers, engaging lessons, and a system that supported learning no matter where it occurred,” PLTW Director of School Engagement Sherry Worsham said. “The power of education is found across the years, at every turn. The result – improved lives and a vibrant community.”