Pass Christian schools star in new documentary

PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - By Trang Pham-Bui – bio | email

PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) – The Pass Christian School District has had its share of achievements and adversity over the years.

Who can forget how Katrina left the district in ruins?  Two schools were destroyed and two other buildings were heavily damaged. Yet through it all, the district continued to earn quite a reputation for academic excellence, from winning the National Blue Ribbon Award to becoming the top performing school in the state.

"If I had to say two words, it's just hard, hard work, and we'll continue to do that," said Pass Christian Schools Superintendent Dr. Sue Matheson. "We have weak areas, but we keep academics as our main focus."

The "star" school district is now the subject of a new documentary called "The Minds of Mississippi."

"The angle there was even though our schools were washed away, we still were a level 5, the highest level academically in the state," said Matheson.

The man behind the documentary is Dr. David Hyerle, founder of the "Thinking Foundation" and developer of a teaching technique called "Thinking Maps."

"Thinking Maps is a tool that we have been using in our district for probably eight or nine years," said Matheson. "It's actually an organizational tool that helps students do their homework, and actually helps them with their testing."

Dr. Hyerle spent two weeks observing the program at work in the trailer classrooms.  He also interviewed students, teachers, and parents in the Pass. They talked about high expectations and reflected on how their tiny school district emerged from the rubble to achieve academic success.

"The lesson we learned from Katrina was that it's not about the buildings, it's about the people.  It's about your employees.  It's about your community. So that's what we focus on," said Matheson.

The documentary is in the final stages of production. No word yet on when it will be released.

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