Mississippi College provides familiar setting for Clinton Public Schools’ 2023 Convocation
When 650 local educators and administrators representing eight scholastic institutions packed Swor Auditorium in Nelson Hall July 18 for Clinton Public Schools’ Convocation, most found themselves in familiar surroundings.
Noted Cindy Melton, dean of the School of Education at Mississippi College, that more than 60 percent of Clinton Public School District employees have at least one degree from MC.
Melton and Michael J. Highfield, MC associate provost and graduate dean, welcomed the throng to the Christian University’s main campus, expressed gratitude for their commitment to the profession of education and their dedication to families in the local community, and helped Phil Fisher, mayor of Clinton, Andy Schoggin, CPS superintendent, and other dignitaries herald the start of the 2023-24 school year.
“It is a great time to partner with our local community and schools and to welcome home so many of our wonderful MC graduates – as well as recruit them to another degree program,” said Melton, a former CPSD teacher who has had children in CPSD schools for more than a dozen years. “We always love having our ‘neighbors’ over. There is a buzz in the air as they arrive on campus from their summer break and greet their coworkers.
“CPSD is a valuable resource for our undergraduate and graduate students, with many Clinton teachers and administrators serving as mentors, supervisors, and cooperating teachers for our students. Hosting their Convocation is only a small way to say thank you for their contribution to Clinton and MC.”
Highfield told the assembly of educators that the dedication they show their students has a profound impact on Mississippi College – and the community.
“The investment you make in our community not only helps us in terms of the students that we’re going to have in the future, but when we’re recruiting faculty and staff, the best and the brightest come here to Mississippi College,” he said. “A Pew Research Center study has shown that 88 percent of Americans list an educator as one of the top three most influential people in their lives beyond their family.
“The people going into your classroom are looking to you as an example. They are looking to see how you respond. They are learning from you. It matters what you do.”
MC’s School of Education and the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies host the ceremony to thank the neighboring school district for its strong commitment to the community. Convocation represents the only time that all CPSD faculty, staff, administrators, and employees gather together. Having the event at MC signifies the rich relationship the MC School of Education has cultivated with the district, according to Robert Chapman, CPS public information officer.
“The Clinton Public School District and Mississippi College have shared a close relationship for decades,” Chapman said. “It’s almost like CPSD is visiting family each year we return for Convocation. Rarely do we get the chance to have all our educators and support staff in one spot to celebrate the accomplishments of the past and accept the challenge of the school year ahead of us.
“Having the faculty and staff from each campus under one roof allows for a real sense of unity and camaraderie. CPSD is a family, and inspiring this family at the start of the school year in its efforts to produce successful individuals in a unified, caring community is what Convocation is all about.”
Melton said the spirit and sense of community make the annual event meaningful.
“Everyone comes together to celebrate, support, and encourage one another,” she said. “In my role as dean of the School of Education, I am incredibly grateful for the valuable opportunities that CPSD provides for our teacher education students to complete field placements each year.
“I am grateful for the unique and wonderful partnership of CPSD and MC and the amazing support from the community of Clinton.”
Chapman said CPSD and MC share a common mission: to educate tomorrow’s leaders.
“Holding our annual Convocation on MC’s campus reminds teachers and administrators of what lies beyond our K-12 curriculum,” he said. “Many of our own stories of triumph and perseverance started in the classroom and were continued on college campuses like Mississippi College.
“By continuing to build an already strong relationship, we strengthen our resolve in pursuit of excellence.”
Although she views each CPS Convocation she has helped host with equal regard, Melton said the most memorable was the district’s 50th anniversary in 2019.
“Each superintendent who served CPSD was in attendance,” she said. “The first superintendent for the school district, Dr. Virgil Belue, offered the same speech he delivered at the inaugural Convocation of CPSD.
“We are so thankful for the longstanding partnership we have with Clinton schools, and we are thrilled to host CPSD each year. It is a natural fit for us to have them on campus since we, in essence, share a backyard with them.
“It’s like having our neighbors over for dinner.”