Dr. Rolando Herts (left), director of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning, recently visited Senator Thad Cochran's office with fellow participants in the Delta Leadership Institute’s Executive Academy.

DRA brings community leaders to D.C.

By | Delta Center | No Comments

WASHINGTON — Members of the Delta Leadership Institute’s Executive Academy, selected by Governor Phil Bryant and Delta Regional Authority federal co-chairman Chris Masingill, met recently with their congressional delegation and federal officials in Washington, D.C., to talk about issues affecting the Mississippi River Delta region, including creating good-paying jobs, growing small businesses and entrepreneurs, and training a skilled workforce.

“Our cities and towns are important laboratories for policy development and economic growth in our region. To support smart, effective decision-making in our local communities, the Delta Leadership Institute is training and connecting our region’s leaders with the tools, network, and skills to improve the economic realities of their communities,” said Masingill. “This session in Washington, D.C., provides them access to each of these and empower them to share their experiences back home and throughout the region.”

Executive Academy fellows were in Washington for the fifth session of the DLI Executive Academy, a year-long program for community leaders across the Delta that teaches leadership skills and prepares fellows to collaborate across state and local borders to address the most-pressing challenges of the region. This is the eleventh class of the DLI Executive Academy.

Among the participants was Delta State’s own, Dr. Rolando Herts, director of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning.

Other participants included:
Amanda Allen | Clarksdale, MS
Tracy Ausberry | Clarksdale, MS
Joshua Bower | Jackson, MS
Shellie Michael | Jackson, MS
Lane Riley | Shaw, MS
Jessie Whitley | Greenville, MS

Congressman Bennie Thompson poses with members of the DLI's Executive Academy.

Congressman Bennie Thompson poses with members of the DLI’s Executive Academy.

The meetings also allow these Delta leaders to interact directly with their congressional representation and discuss the policies and resources that they see as being most important to the region’s economic success, such as workforce development, access to healthcare, entrepreneurship, disaster recovery and resilience and geotourism.

“I commend the Delta Regional Authority for fostering new leadership to promote economic growth and health care improvement throughout the Delta,” said Cochran. “It was a pleasure to meet the members of the Delta Leadership Institute, who will use the leadership skills they’re learning to aid their communities.”

“I enjoyed my conversation with this group of new leaders. This and other leadership programs are vital to the future success of our state,” U.S. Congressman Bennie Thompson (MS-2) said. “I tried to stress the importance of strong, competent individuals taking up the mantle of leadership in the Mississippi Delta to continue getting things done for the people they serve.”

“The DLI experience has been so educational for class members throughout Mississippi and the seven other DRA states. Participating in these DRA Hill visits is a highlight of my career and professional development,” stated Jessie Whitley. “It was an honor to meet Senator Cochran, Congressman Thompson, and Congressman Harper and share with them the great work that DRA is doing in Delta communities. We also gained insights from them about how we can use leadership skills and connections developed through this program to better our communities. It was a win-win.”

Congressman Gregg Harper meets with participants.

Congressman Gregg Harper meets with participants.

“At the Delta Center for Culture and Learning, we’re involved in lots of projects related to culture, heritage, and tourism,” said Herts. “I really appreciate the DLI Executive Academy for providing this opportunity to meet with our representatives in Washington to discuss ways that we can all help the region together. Without the Delta Regional Authority, which helps to empower so many here in the Delta, this would not have happened.”

Lane Riley is the program director for Delta Hands for Hope in Shaw. Her organization provides after-school educational opportunities for school-age children in the town.

“The DLI Executive Academy connects many Delta leaders and experts to address many of the issues and challenges effecting our region,” said Riley. “I will be able to use this experience to bring new ideas and information back to my community, and work with other leaders in the Delta to have a greater collective impact. Through this trip to Washington, D.C., we were able to advocate for continued support of programs and policies that will have a positive impact in the Mississippi Delta. Participating in the DLI is beneficial for me, my organization, and my community, and I am so honored to be apart of this amazing program.”

Students from La Trobe University in Australia enjoyed a luncheon Wednesday at Delta State with the Fighting Okra and President William N. LaForge.

Australian delegation visits Delta State

By | Delta Center, International, President | No Comments

A group of 47 students and faculty members from La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia made a special stop at Delta State’s campus Wednesday during their three-week international study tour between New Orleans and Memphis.

The group is taking part in the trip to focus on critical aspects of the region, including history, culture, society, site visits and more.

Their stop at Delta State included a tour of the Delta Music Institute, a visit from the Fighting Okra, a luncheon with President William N. LaForge and Dr. Christy Riddle with International Student Services, and a visit to GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi.

The students, enrolled in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, will eventually complete a region-based research project based on their visit.

For more information on La Trobe University, visit http://www.latrobe.edu.au/about.

Follow all Delta State University news at www.deltastate.edu.

vista logo

VISTA accepting applications

By | Center for Community and Economic Development | No Comments

In its fight against poverty, the AmeriCorps*VISTA program, under the direction of Linda Stringfellow, is now accepting applications for full-time members. Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) members focus on building sustainable programs by strengthening an organization’s infrastructure, expanding community partnerships, and securing long-term resources.

VISTA members will receive, in exchange for a 12-month commitment to service, a modest living stipend, an end of term education award or cash stipend, free health insurance, student loan forbearance or deferment, priceless skills development and much more.

“In combatting illiteracy, health concerns and economic despair, some of your efforts may include implementing marketing campaigns, coordinating educational workshops, recruiting other volunteers, or organizing fundraising efforts,” said Stringfellow.

May’s Member of the Month, Shannon Curtis, is a testament to impactful community change. Joining VISTA led her to Mississippi where helps build and sustain a viable local food system with the Mississippi Sustainable Agriculture Network and Sustainable Oxford.

During her first six months in Oxford, Curtis hosted monthly forums and potlucks concerning issues of sustainability, social justice, poverty, transportation, water issues and more. She facilitated discussions of food systems development during the LOU Homelessness Summit. Additionally, she also developed the MSAN program Sustainable Oxford by building a steering committee of more than 25 volunteers.

Curtis has built coalitions with partner organizations like the University Of Mississippi Office Of Sustainability, City of Oxford Recycling Department, McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement, William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, Leadership Lafayette, Oxford City Market, Mississippi Farm to School Network and more.

VISTA openings in Sunflower, Panola and Tunica counties are waiting to be filled.

Applicants must be at least 18 years old and a U.S. citizen. Apply to the program at www.nationalservice.gov and select “I’m Ready to Serve.” Participants must also attend one of the recruitment sessions on either June 28 or June 30. Sessions will begin at 9:30 a.m.

For more information, contact Lakisha L. Butler, program associate for marketing and recruiting, at 662-846-4848 or kbutler@deltastate.edu.

Teachers taking part in the Delta Math Science Partnership Initiative  included: (front row, left to right) Darla McDaniel, Tina McDonald, Meghan Davis, Allison Berg, Anna Melton, Sonya Burchfield, Anna Glenn, Sherri Williams,
(second row, l to r) Karen Bright, Sheronda Lee, Demetras Jones, Bruce Goldstein, Aneshia McDaniel, Betty Shelly, Chandria McKnight, Shunquita Henry, Tameka Davis, Rolanda Swarptue. Mary Frances Malatesta.
(third row, l to r) Mary Garcia, Camellia Jenkins, Rosemary Collins, Arika Armstrong, Elizabeth Stallworth, Karen Haun, Jacinta Brown, Annie Steele, Heidi Barbian, Yolanda McGee, Betty Roby, Annie Love, Katherine Thomas, Glenda Lollis-Hawkins, Maria Thigpen, Gregory Jackson Jr., Samuel Mettu and Patrick Evans .

Delta Math Science Partnership hosts institute

By | Academics, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Education and Human Sciences | No Comments

Delta State University recently hosted 39 Mississippi teachers at the Delta Math Science Partnership Summer Institute (MSP) from June 6-17.

The program providing learning designed to support increased content knowledge for grades K-8 in-service mathematics teachers who are committed to fidelity of implementation of the Mississippi College- and Career- Readiness Standards for Mathematics.

Mathematics instruction was provided by Dr. David Hebert and Dr. Liza Cope from the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Mathematics, with support from Laura Little, Cecelia Jones, Bib Belenchia and Kathleen Lott. Leadership was also provided by the College of Education and Human Sciences.

MSP, a federal program backed by the U.S. Department of Education, strives to improve teacher quality through partnerships between state education agencies, institutions of higher education, high-need local education agencies and schools in order to increase the academic achievement of students in mathematics and science.

In January, MSP at Delta State was selected by the State Board of Education for a new round of grant support to continue its programming. The major grant funding will come over a three-year period, totaling over $1.1 million.

NEH "Most Southern" workshop participants enjoy a welcome reception before starting an intensive week of Mississippi Delta experiential learning led by the Delta Center for Culture and Learning.

Delta Center begins “Most Southern Place on Earth” workshop

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The Delta Center for Culture and Learning’s “Most Southern Place on Earth” workshop kicked off its seventh year with an opening reception at the Martin and Sue King Railroad Museum in downtown Cleveland on Sunday.

The workshop is a week-long educational and cultural immersion experience for 36 participants from over 20 states. The workshop is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Joshuah Totten-Greenwood teaches high school history in New Hampshire. He was particularly drawn to the workshop because of the hands-on learning environment it provides.

“I like to learn by doing. I needed to see the actual places — talk about them with the people that are from here,” said Totten-Greenwood. “Otherwise forget it. It’s just not the same learning from books as it is actually being there.”

For the next five days, participants will travel around the Delta interacting directly with historically and culturally significant people and places in the region.

“I’ve always loved jazz and the blues. I’m classically trained, but I’ve never really been in the South before. I’ve always just listened to the music,” said Melody Nishinaga, a New York elementary school music teacher. “I’m really excited to be able to explore the history and the culture this week.”

The NEH workshop has created a national network of over 500 educational and cultural ambassadors for the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area. Participants take what they have learned from the workshop back to their schools and communities, sharing stories and lessons from the Delta with students, colleagues, family and friends, nationally and globally.

The mission of The Delta Center is to promote greater understanding of Mississippi Delta culture and history and its significance to the world through education, partnerships and community engagement. The center serves as the management entity of the MDNHA and is the home of the National Endowment for the Humanities “Most Southern Place on Earth” workshop and the International Delta Blues Project.