• 75°

Grant helps expand city school district’s ‘distance learning’

More educational opportunities will soon be available for juniorhigh and high school students in the Brookhaven School Districtwith the help of a recently-awarded $100,000 grant.

More educational opportunities will soon be available for juniorhigh and high school students in the Brookhaven School Districtwith the help of a recently-awarded $100,000 grant.

Half of the grant will be used to upgrade technology atBrookhaven High School, while the remainder will bring aninteractive classroom to Alexander Junior High some time in theupcoming year.

“We’ll have to do some faculty training, but certainly by springI believe we will see the program in full implementation,”Brookhaven School District Assistant Superintendent Lea Barrettsaid about the distance learning and telemedicine grant provided bythe United States Department of Agriculture.

The district plans to issue bids for the needed equipment inAugust. The equipment includes a video conferencing unit that canconnect junior high students with other students and teachers fromaround the state through distance learning.

“Distance learning is when the course is being offered at onesite and can be projected to other classrooms,” Barrett added.

An interactive classroom has been offered in the district on thehigh school level for the past few years through the MississippiEducational Television Network.

“We’ve seen how well it works, and we’re excited to be able tooffer it at Alexander Junior High as well,” Barrett said.

She explained that students’ desks are equipped with microphonesfor asking and answering questions with the instructor, who appearsto them on a television screen in the front of the classroom.

This project will link Brookhaven students with three otherrural Mississippi school districts, Cleveland, Copiah County andPetal, which make up the Central Mississippi School DistrictConsortium.

The districts joined together after discovering they had commongoals in technological advancements.

Interactive classrooms provide greater diversity in coursework,giving schools the opportunity to increase the number and types ofCarnegie units offered, Barrett said.

She pointed out that one example would be providing more foreignlanguages for students by allowing them to take extra classes thatmight not be taught in Brookhaven but are offered at the otherschools.

Junior high and high school students in the Brookhaven SchoolDistrict will also be able to work together on projects byconnecting with video conferencing units.

Another $75,000 grant the district received recently, combinedwith the $100,000 grant, will also help bring more computers tostudents.

“We’re delighted about it,” Barrett said. “Particularly with thestate funding cuts, any funds we can find from additional sourcesare critical for us right now.”

The $100,000 grant is part of $15 million awarded to ruralschools across the nation. Mississippi received $1 million, whichis the largest allocation in the nation.