Interactive learning may help students & reduce dropouts

By Jon Kalahar - bio | email

JACKSON, MS (WLOX) - State educators say the best way to keep students interested in learning is to get more creative in the classroom.  In fact, Friday, the classroom wasn't needed at all.

It's not every day that fifth graders get close to an air ambulance helicopter, or see exactly how rescue personnel save lives. It may be a job they'd like to perform one day. What about studying to be a surgeon, nurse or even a geologist? All these jobs have one thing in common.

"In order to do any of these jobs that they are being presented with today, they've gotta stay in school," said Dr. Hank Bounds, Mississippi's Superintendent of Education.

The educational fair give students an up close, and sometimes hands on opportunity to check out jobs that may inspire them.

"We needed to put a greater emphasis on education," said Canton Public Schools Superintendent Dwight Luckett.

When Luckett took over as Superintendent of Canton Public Schools, more students were dropping out than graduating. Now, his community based approach has connected a student's education to success later in life.

"With business leaders coming in and sharing, 'I want to hire you and I'll start you out making 30, 40, 50 thousand dollars a year. But I'm not gonna hire you if you drop out of school,'" Luckett said.

The interactive teaching has worked. In Canton, the graduation rate is up more than 35 percent, and statewide more students graduated last year than ever before. But the fight to reduce the number of students who drop out is still going.

"I think it's pretty critical we meet kids where they are in terms of where they are on a learning continuum. But it's also important we help spark an interest and find out what excites them," Bounds said.

The educational fair is a yearly event that will eventually become the Mississippi Children's Museum when it opens in the fall of 2010.

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