“Ideas on Tap: The Future of Public Education,” a public forum presented by the Mississippi Humanities Council, the Phil Hardin Foundation, and the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi, focused on the connection between public education and economic development.
“Public schools are why people are moving to DeSoto County,” said Tom Pittman with the Community Foundation and moderator for the panel.
Other members of the panel included Supt. Cory Uselton, Realtor Corie Haynes, and Northwest Community College President Dr. Michael Heindl. Held in the DeSoto Arts Council building in Hernando on Sept. 17, the forum was the second of a two part series. The first program looked at education on the statewide level and included public education and charter schools.
“DeSoto County Schools are what sells homes in DeSoto County,” said Haynes.
Dr. Heindl noted that a major reason for the growth of Northwest Community College is the growth of DeSoto County. He said Northwest is now the third-largest community college in Mississippi. He also predicted that more jobs of the future will need a background in career-based education.
“Our job as educators is to prepare students for their next step if they are college bound or if they are going straight into the workforce,” said Uselton. “We are exposing students to career choices at earlier ages.”
He also noted that the DeSoto County Economic Council has an upcoming Career Fair for 8th grade students.
“The school district brings every 8th grade student to this event where he or she has real world, hands-on activities relating to future careers,” he said.
Uselton also discussed the challenges of school funding and school security, noting that the district has increased funding for school resource officers over the last two school years.