GRAMMY Museum receives Mississippi Arts Commission grant

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GRAMMY Museum ® Mississippi of Cleveland, Miss has been awarded an $18,000 grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC). This grant is a portion of the $1.3 million in grants the Commission will award in 2017-2018 and will be used to provide unique learning opportunities based on the enduring legacies of all forms of music; the entire creative and technological processes of recording; and the history of the GRAMMY Awards® with a focus on the continuing achievements of Mississippians. The grants are made possible by continued funding from the Mississippi State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.

“Arts organizations throughout the state of Mississippi play a pivotal role in sharing the power of the arts with people from all walks of life,” said Malcolm White, executive director of MAC. “The arts are for everyone, and the Mississippi Arts Commission is pleased to support arts organizations committed to growing the presence of the arts in their communities.”

The Museum provides a one-of-a-kind visitor experience – engaging, educational, celebratory and inspirational. Students and visitors explore music and culture using Museum tours, education and public programs, workshops, summer camps, leadership opportunities and outreach activities. Through its exhibits and programming, the Museum provides an engaging exploration of music history for its visitors while educating them on the significant music and cultural contributions of Mississippians.

The Mississippi Arts Commission, a state agency, serves the residents of the state by providing grants that support programs to enhance communities; assist artists and arts organizations; promote the arts in education and celebrate Mississippi’s cultural heritage. Established in 1968, the Mississippi Arts Commission is funded by the Mississippi Legislature, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Mississippi Endowment for the Arts at the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson and other private sources. The agency serves as an active supporter and promoter of arts in community life and in arts education.

For information from the Mississippi Arts Commission, contact Anna Ehrgott, Communications Director, 601-359-6546

For information on GRAMMY Museum Mississippi visit or for further inquiries contact Jane Marie Dawkins, Education and Public Programs Manager, 662-441-0100 or

DMI student to intern with Yokohama Theatre Group in Tokyo

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While many students across the nation are enjoying the carefree vibes of summer vacation, Delta State student Chris Autry is hard at work preparing for his internship in Tokyo, Japan, next fall.

Beginning Sept. 6, Autry, a senior Delta Music Institute major from Picayune, will be working with the Yokohama Theatre Group doing live and recorded sound for live performances and video recording. He will also assist with mixing and mastering audio for video as well as video editing.

Originally founded in 1900, the Yokohama Theatre Group is located in Yokohama, Japan, just south of Tokyo. As Japan’s capital city, Tokyo is a mix of modern and traditional society – a change from the cotton fields and never-ending sunsets of the Delta. But, the change in culture is also what attracted Autry. He chose to apply for an internship in Tokyo after visiting friends that lived in Tokyo and Osaka.

“After visiting, I realized that Japan was where I eventually wanted to move to and live,” Autry said. “I considered other places within Japan such as Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya, and a couple of more places.”

After some further research and a little help from his friends, he found his dream internship. While studying abroad, Autry hopes he can inspire future students to experience new cultures.

“I will also be studying abroad learning the language and hopefully making a study abroad program for other students to be able to come to Japan and experience the same magic that I have,” Autry said. “I hope that I can also share with other students from Delta State some interviews as well as some videos to show a different view of how amazing Japan is.”

DMI Director Tricia Walker said she looks forward to Autry sharing his experiences with other Delta State students when he returns.

“Chris transferred to Delta State from another institution and from day one has been very proactive in his degree path,” said Tricia Walker, director of the DMI. “Having visited Japan before, he took the initiative to seek out an internship position there in his field. He’ll have lots to share with our other students when he returns.”

For more information about the DMI, contact Tricia Walker at 662-846-4579 or

TFA Graduate Fellows host day of service

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The Teach For America Graduate Fellows Program at Delta State University hosted their first Service Day on June 3 at the Rosedale Freedom Project (RFP) in Rosedale.

Two current fellows, Jeremiah Smith and Lucas Rapisarda, have dedicated their social entrepreneurship project to serving the RFP, a leadership program that works to prepare middle and high school students to be leaders in their schools, communities and collegiate pursuits.

The fellows, RFP and a group of volunteers came together to support cleanup efforts at RFP. They were joined by friends and families, RFP students, RFP summer interns from around the country, and doctoral candidates who teach during the Freedom Summer. The group spent the day preparing RFP for Freedom Summer 2017 by revitalizing the basketball court, cleaning the inside of the building, classrooms and library, and working in the RFP garden.

Each summer, RFP hosts Freedom Summer, a five-week summer school program, offering seventh through ninth grade Freedom Fellows rigorous instruction in reading and math; creative opportunities in visual arts and drama; and access to health and wellness training through fitness, gardening, and a healthy lunch program. After completing the academic portion of the summer, Freedom Fellows travel to Alabama, Arkansas and Tennessee to camp in the wilderness, visit civil rights monuments and museums, and learn more about the deep history of empowerment and social justice in the South.

Smith said he was thrilled to utilize joint resources between Delta State and TFA.

“The Teach for America Graduate Fellows program has allowed me the opportunities and resources necessary to make the Rosedale Freedom Project a reality,” said Smith. “The support, resources and education that I’ve benefited from at Delta State has helped me to organize community members, build a strong and diverse staff, enlist supporters, and plan a rigorous summer program that promotes leadership within the community.

“At the RFP, young people take ownership over their growth as leaders and community members. Opportunities like the Service Day are perfect demonstrations of how our fellows and our staff see their role in Rosedale holistically — we do not simply provide fellows with educational opportunities. Rather, we contribute to and engage with the community; we strengthen intergenerational and interracial bonds; and we bring vision, drive and passion to the challenging but rewarding task of social change.”

Harrison Wood, program coordinator for the Teach For America Graduate Fellows Program, was thrilled to see progress made through the fellowship.

“Thanks to support from the Hearin Foundation, Delta State and TFA came together to make these partnerships possible,” said Harrison Wood, program coordinator. “The TFA Graduate Fellows Program provides TFA alumni the opportunity to continue their education in Delta State’s graduate school, while also helping to reimagine what is possible for Mississippi. Each TFA Fellow works on an individualized social entrepreneurship project that will ultimately have positive social impact in communities throughout Mississippi.”

Learn more about program at

Literacy Across the Curriculum Institute kicks off

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Delta State University’s College of Education and Human Sciences kicked off its 13th Literacy Across the Curriculum Institute (LACI) for teachers of grades 6-12 on June 1.

The institute, which runs June 1-28, is designed to enable teachers in middle and secondary schools to effectively incorporate the teaching of literacy skills in their respective content areas.

LACI’s curriculum is rigorous and broad in scope to enable both new and experienced teachers to attain highly qualified status according to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

Participants gain skills regarding the Mississippi Curriculum Frameworks, test blueprints provided by the Mississippi Department of Education, College and Career Ready Standards, national standards, and data driven instruction and performance based assessments.

“The institute provides teachers with a whole new toolbox of literacy strategies to help struggling and proficient readers become stronger students in all academic areas, not just literacy,” said Dr. Merideth Van Namen, institute director. “This helps students perform better on their state tests and ultimately, be more successful.”

LACI is provided through the support of the No Child Left Behind Act: Improving Teacher Quality State Grant.

Participants in this year’s programming represent various school districts from the Mississippi Delta who are eager to improve their classroom instruction and student performance. They will attend the 22-day institute, which includes 20 days in June and a spring and fall follow up session.

The administrative staff for 2017-18 includes Van Namen; Pam Maxwell, instructor; and Dr. Cheryl Cummins, instructor. For more information, contact Van Namen at or 662-846-4412.

Upholt paddles “Big River”

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Sleeping under the stars, rising with the sun to the sounds of the Mississippi River, paddling daily in a handcrafted canoe — Boyce Upholt, a graduate student at Delta State University, spent six weeks on the Mighty Mississippi this spring.

Upholt, a candidate for a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (geography), is documenting the “batture,” the woods between the levee and the river, as a part of his thesis.

He calls this important and little-known landscape the “walled-in wild.”

“In a way it’s the leftovers,” said Upholt. “It’s half domesticated, contained by the levee wall, with concrete lining much of the river’s edge, too. But it’s half wild, too — maybe more than half.”

See the full story and photos: