Northeast Mississippi – and specifically the Oktibbeha County area – broke ground on an innovative educational project this week, showcasing the continued commitment our region places on advancing public education for Mississippi students and, in this case, teachers also.

Leaders from across the region and state gathered Wednesday for a groundbreaking ceremony on the Starkville Oktibbeha School District Partnership School located at Mississippi State University.

The 128,000-square-foot facility will serve every sixth- and seventh-grade student in the Starkville Oktibbeha Consolidated School District and will also serve as a demonstration site for student teachers and faculty members in MSU’s College of Education.

The school represents an exciting approach to education by exposing students in the area to innovative classroom instruction, while simultaneously cultivating the next generation of teachers.

Expected to be complete by January 2019, the school will house up to 1,000 students and include spaces such as outdoor areas for sports, computer labs, areas for music and arts and seven MSU classrooms for students to learn in the real world, as reported by the Daily Journal’s Kaitlin O’Dougherty.

As local students get a new school to call their own, student teachers will also get a space to work directly with experienced teachers in the district.

Classroom arrangements will allow MSU education students to observe teaching techniques without interrupting instruction, and the school’s design features spaces for rotating displays from MSU museums and galleries, according to a press release issued by the university.

MSU leaders said they believe the school will help Mississippi address challenges that rural schools across the state face as teachers and faculty from the university work hand-in-hand with district teachers to explore advanced practices and solve challenging problems in the classroom.

Professional development opportunities for in-service educators across the state is another school goal that will help Mississippi teachers stay at the forefront of best educational practices.

“The Partnership School is a win-win-win for Starkville, Oktibbeha County and Mississippi State University. And it’s a win for the students who will come here at a critical time in their lives,” MSU President Mark E. Keenum said. “This is an absolute testament to the power of working together in a partnership manner.”

The 43-acre, university-donated school site is located on the campus of Mississippi State University in Starkville, near the university’s north entrance at the intersection of George Perry Street and Highway 182.

Funding for the $27.5 million school is being provided by MSU and bond issues from the Mississippi Legislature and SOSD. Private support from many individuals and organizations – including the Starkville-Oktibbeha Achieving Results, which is an affiliate of the CREATE Foundation of Tupelo – is also helping make the school a reality.

We applaud this innovative project that’s truly seeking to advance Mississippi by investing equally in our students and teachers.

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