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Canton School Leaders Explain Turnaround

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 16 Jan 2012 05:20pm | comments
Dwight Luckett.

Education is often cited as a key element to improving Mississippi's economy and future. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that one school in central Mississippi is an example of surprising improvement.

Just a few years ago Canton Public High School was among the worst perform schools in the state, graduating about a third of its students.

The school has raised that to 60-percent graduating in the most recent school year.

Canton superintendent Dwight Luckett says his first step when he took over in 2006 was changing the expectations.

"Focusing on academics. The adults in the community, parents who may not have gone as far in education as they would like to go, letting them know that that is ok but you have children that can go father and we need you to be a part of the process. Then focusing internally by getting the best administrators and teachers as we can," Luckett said.

Luckett says instituting a dress code, and enforcing penalties for tardiness as well as showing successful graduates has changed the mind set of students.

Rodriguez Brown graduated from Canton high school in 2004, and is now a city alderman.

He says pressure from home helped him graduate when few of his peers did.

"Education not being a major factor in homes that is the main key for a lot of drop outs when education is not important at the home. And when it is not pushed at the home, I don't care how many great teachers you have its not going to work," Brown said.

Canton Mayor William Truly says improvement in the school system is vital to attract people to live and work in Canton.

"One of the things that we are doing right now is developing a 15 year plan to make sure that we are first in education, make sure we produce more scholars. If you don't graduate as a scholar, we certainly want you to graduate with some kind of a technical skill," Healy said.

In the face of heighten public scrutiny, schools are the state are trying to be more creative to raise their graduation rates and prevent drop outs.


Dwight Luckett.



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