The Delta Center staff members recently greeted National Park Travelers Club members with MDNHA National Park Service Centennial passport t-shirts. Pictured are (l to r): Delta Center grad assistant Lydia Haley, David Kroese, Delta Center grad assistant Stephanie Green, Deborah Archer, Leland Warzala, and Dr. Rolando Herts, director of The Delta Center

National Park Travelers Club members visit The Delta Center

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Members of the National Park Travelers Club visited The Delta Center for Culture and Learning on the campus of Delta State this week. The group is touring the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area collecting National Park Service passport stamps as a way to celebrate the 2016 National Park Service Centennial.

Leland Warzala (Springfield, Illinois), Deborah Archer (Norfolk, Viginia) and David Kroese (Loves Park, Illinois), visited the center to collect their MDNHA passport stamp, which is part of the NPS’ Passport to Your National Parks program. The three NPS passport enthusiasts have been traveling the MDNHA this month collecting stamps in each Delta county. Their Delta traveling adventure has yielded a series of interesting discoveries and pleasant surprises.

The travelers visited cultural heritage attractions throughout the region where passport stations are located, including the Gateway to the Blues Museum and Visitor Center in Tunica and Tallahatchie County Courthouse where the Emmett Till trial took place in 1955.

“Last night, each of us stayed in separate hotels in Clarksdale, just to get a sense of the different hotel options there,” said Archer. “We have been eating at different restaurants, too. Delta food is so delicious. We are working our way to Yazoo City next where we will stay tonight.”

While visiting The Delta Center, they learned about the internationally renowned rural juke joint Po’ Monkey’s Lounge in Merigold, an easy stop on the way to Rosedale, where the Bolivar County passport stamp is available in the Chancery Clerk’s office at the county courthouse.

They also learned about the MDNHA’s NPS centennial passport t-shirt. This collector’s item is awarded to travelers who gather all passport stamps in the MDNHA. Currently, there are 22 passport stamps across the region. This number is expected to grow as the MDNHA passport program continues to gain momentum.

Warzala gave kudos to the MDNHA and The Delta Center for managing a well organized and geographically diverse passport program.

“We would not have known about all of the interesting places to visit in the Delta had it not been for this program,” said Warzala. “We knew that we had to visit all of the counties here, because we wanted to get all of the stamps. We had no idea that there are so many great things to see and do along the way, like the Crossroads sign [in Clarksdale], Dockery Farms and all of the Blues Trail markers.”

The MDNHA launched its participation in the Passport to Your National Parks program in November 2014 with the goal of making passport stations available in each of the MDNHA’s 18 counties. By the spring of 2015, this goal was accomplished. Since then, additional regional partners in Washington and Coahoma counties have signed on to host passport stations, including the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, and the Jim Henson Museum of the Frog and the Highway 61 Blues Museum, both in Leland. The full list of MDNHA passport locations is available at http://www.msdeltaheritage.com/.

Lee Aylward (left) of The Delta Center speaks with National Park Travelers Club visitors about Mississippi Delta attractions.

Lee Aylward (left) of The Delta Center speaks with National Park Travelers Club visitors about Mississippi Delta attractions.

Kroese praised the state of Mississippi for supporting National Heritage Areas.

“There is no other state where you will find three distinct National Heritage Areas that offer such rich cultural heritage resources,” he said. “As a passport collector, I have traveled to national parks all over the country. What you have here in Mississippi with the Delta, Hills and Gulf Coast heritage areas is a real treasure. They are connected and tell great stories about music, food, literature and people.”

The travel companions plan to encourage other National Park Travelers Club members to visit the Mississippi Delta, as well as the Mississippi Hills and Gulf Coast National Heritage Areas. They also look forward to returning to Cleveland and Delta State after GRAMMY Museum Mississippi opens.

Warzala said, “The Beatles is the first exhibit that will be shown at the GRAMMY Museum? I am definitely coming back.”

Mississippi Delta-based municipalities, businesses, cultural attractions, heritage sites or other organizations that are interested in participating in the Passport Program should contact The Delta Center regarding the application process. For more information, call 662-846-4311 or email Heather Miller at hmiller@deltastate.edu.

To learn more about the National Park Travelers Club, visit http://www.parkstamps.org. To learn more about the NPS Centennial, visit www.nps.gov/2016.

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 Delta 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. For more information, visit http://www.deltastate.edu/academics/delta-center-for-culture-and-learning/.

The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area is a partnership between the people of the Mississippi Delta and the NPS. The MDNHA was designated by U.S. Congress in 2009 and is governed by a board of directors representing agencies and organizations defined in the congressional legislation. More information about the MDNHA, including the complete approved management plan, is available at http://www.msdeltaheritage.com.

Delta State offices to close Friday (Jan. 22)

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The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for the Bolivar County area beginning at midnight tonight and continuing through 9 p.m. Friday. Snow and sleet accumulations of two to five inches are expected.

Due to this weather threat, and in the interest of safety and an abundance of caution, Delta State University will be closed Friday, January 22.  All classes, including night classes, are cancelled for Friday, and the university will be closed for business operations. Essential service personnel should check with their supervisor to determine if they need to report on Friday. Any employees uncertain about reporting should check with their supervisor. Thursday classes, including night classes, are still scheduled to meet.

Residence halls will remain open for students who choose to stay on campus. Dining and other essential services are scheduled to remain open; however, students should watch for alerts for possible changes in operating hours for these services.

A winter storm warning means significant amounts of snow are expected. Strong winds are also possible. This will make travel very hazardous or impossible. If you have travel plans, please check weather conditions and road conditions and use judgment before traveling.

The Delta State Emergency Response Team is monitoring the situation and is in contact with the National Weather Service, emergency officials and the university’s administration.

Updates related to the university’s schedule and operations will be posted using deltastate.edu, email, text messages, Twitter (@DeltaState) and Facebook.

Anyone who has not yet registered his or her cell phone number for emergency text alerts is encouraged to do so now by completing the following steps:

  1. Login to your “My DSU” account:
  2. https://banapp2.deltastate.edu:9010/dsu/twbkwbis.P_GenMenu?name=homepage
  3. Choose the “Personal Information” section and the “Enroll in Okra Alert” option.
  4. Add your cell phone number (with area code).

Classes Cancelled Friday (Jan. 22)

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The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch for the Bolivar County area beginning late tonight and continuing through Friday afternoon.

Based on available information, Delta State University has cancelled all classes on Friday (Jan. 22). Today’s classes, including night classes, are still scheduled to meet. An announcement regarding Friday business operations will be sent to employees later today.

Residence halls will remain open for students who choose to stay on campus. Dining and other essential services are scheduled to remain open; however, students should watch for alerts for possible changes in operating hours for these services.

The Delta State Emergency Response Team is monitoring the situation and is in contact with the National Weather Service, emergency officials and the university’s administration.

Any updates on the university’s schedule and operations will be posted using deltastate.edu, email, text messages, Twitter (@DeltaState) and Facebook.

Timing for the system is expected early Friday morning (Jan. 22) through Friday afternoon. Difficult travel conditions are expected. If you have travel plans, please check weather conditions and road conditions and use judgment before traveling.

Anyone who has not yet registered his or her cell phone number for emergency text alerts is encouraged to do so now by completing the following steps:

  1. Login to your “My DSU” account:
  2. https://banapp2.deltastate.edu:9010/dsu/twbkwbis.P_GenMenu?name=homepage
  3. Choose the “Personal Information” section and the “Enroll in Okra Alert” option.
  4. Add your cell phone number (with area code).
peter-rabbit

Peter Rabbit coming to BPAC

By | Bologna Performing Arts Center, Community | No Comments

“Once upon a time there were four little rabbits, and their names were Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail and Peter …”

These famous opening lines of “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” have enchanted young audiences for over 100 years. In celebration of the 150th anniversary of Beatrix Potter’s 150th birthday, Enchantment Theatre, in collaboration with the Estate of Beatrix Potter and Penguin Books UK, will bring her captivating stories to life at the Bologna Performing Arts Center with two BPAC School-Time Matinee performances of “Peter Rabbit™ Tales” on Jan. 29.

Come along for the exploits of a charming hero, who, going against his mother’s wishes, has adventures (and misadventures) in Mr. McGregor’s garden. Using fantastic masks, whimsical puppets, and original music, Enchantment Theatre introduces children to the timeless stories of Beatrix Potter as never seen before.

This show is locally sponsored by Entergy.

The 9:30 a.m. show is completely sold out, but tickets are still available for the 11:30 a.m. performance. Tickets are $6 for adults and students, and are available for purchase by stopping by the BPAC or calling 662-846-4844 for more information. 

The suggested grade levels for this performance are Pre-K through fourth grade. Teachers are encouraged to download the free study guide created by Enchantment Theatre from the BPAC’s website, www.bolognapac.com.

Math science grant

Math and Science Partnership receives over $1 million in grant renewal

By | Academics, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Education and Human Sciences, Community, Faculty/Staff, Office of Institutional Grants | No Comments

The Math and Science Partnership Program (MSP) at Delta State University was recently selected by the State Board of Education for a new round of grant support to continue its mathematics teacher-training platform.

The major grant funding will come over a three-year period, totaling over $1.1 million. This marks the second three-year grant for the program, which began in 2013. The most recent installment will focus on K-8 mathematics teachers.

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 and high-need local education agencies and schools in order to increase the academic achievement of students in mathematics and science.

The size of each state’s grant is awarded based on student population and poverty rates. With the funding provided to Mississippi, the MSP is responsible for improving the content knowledge and teaching skills of K-8 mathematics teachers.

The grant provides professional development training through a two-week intensive summer institute at Delta State, three Saturday sessions throughout the school year, a monthly online discussion, and tri-annual observations during the school year.

MSP Project Director, Kathleen Lott, was thrilled with the grant renewal.

“Acceptance to the Math and Science Partnership grant for 2016-2019 is significant and essential to the Delta, as it provides another option to K-8 math teachers for professional learning,” said Lott. “In providing professional development for teachers, the content knowledge of our K-8 students should be boosted. Due to the continued need in the Delta for professional learning in mathematics education, and the desire to improve student mathematics comprehension, the new grant will continue to strive for a successful program and wise use of the grant allocations.”

Robin Boyles, director of the Office of Institutional Grants at Delta State, was an essential figure in developing the most recent grant proposal.

“This is one of several programs that we have here at Delta State in which we utilize grant funds to address community and regional needs,” said Boyles. “By providing professional development opportunities for middle school math teachers, we hope to be able to impact math scores and improve educational outcomes for students in our school systems. It is through projects such as this that we further our commitment to community and regional stewardship in the Mississippi Delta.”

Boyles said others involved in developing the proposal were Lott, Elizabeth Belenchia, Dr. Liza Cope, Dr. David Hebert, Dr. Clifton Wingard, as well as leadership from Dr. Leslie Griffin, dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences, and Dr. David Breaux, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Their leadership will be utilized as a collaborative partnership between the COEHS and the CAS.

“We have a shortage of qualified math and science teachers in the Delta,” said Griffin. “Not a week goes by that we don’t hear from a school district searching to fill such a position. The grant is Delta State’s effort, with support from the Mississippi Department of Education, to prepare teachers who are highly qualified to teach mathematics and science.

“This will be our second three-year award, which speaks to the sustainability of the program and to the outstanding job that the program faculty have done in providing planning and instruction. We are very pleased that the program has achieved this level of sustainability.”

Cope, an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics at Delta State, said the renewal confirms the serious need for the MSP program.

“In the past, students in Mississippi and particularly the Delta, have earned the lowest scores in the country on these tests,” said Cope. “Therefore, there is a critical need for the work we do with this grant. The fact that this is our second award suggests that our first project was a success.”