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DeSoto County Schools

DeSoto Digest Newsletter - August 2017

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Message from Superintendent Cory Uselton

Superintendent Cory Uselton welcomed keynote speaker Dr. Todd Whitaker.  One of the nation’s leading authorities on staff motivation, teacher leadership and principal effectiveness, Dr. Whitaker has written more than 30 books, including What Great Teachers Do Differently.

     We had an unbelievable morning at New Teacher Orientation! All of our amazing principals and assistant principals were there to greet our newest members of #TeamDCS, and it was a first-class event! Duane Case and his Hernando High School administrative team hosted everyone, Lewisburg High School student Morgan Tibbens led the Pledge of Allegiance,  the award-winning HHS marching band played the National Anthem and other great songs, and our new teachers heard a great presentation, "What Great Teachers Do Differently", from nationally-recognized speaker Todd Whitaker.

     On another note, the Hernando school zone won the table decoration contest for the second year in a row (that is turning into a big deal and I think the other 7 zones are already making plans for next year). I'm so excited about this upcoming school year! Our new teachers are joining an incredible group of returning teachers, and everyone is focused on one goal...student success!! Everyone is ready to #RaiseTheBar!!

17 Things That Matter Most

By Todd Whitaker 

  1. It’s People, Not Programs
  2. The Power of Expectations
  3. If You Say something, Mean It
  4. Prevention versus Revenge
  5. High Expectations—For Whom?
  6. Who is the Variable?
  7. Focus on Students First
  8. Ten Days Out of Ten
  9. Be the Filter
  10. Don’t Need to Repair—Always Do Repair
  11. The Ability to Ignore
  12. Random or Plandom?
  13. Base Every Decision on the Best People
  14. In Every Situation, Ask Who Is Most Comfortable/Least Comfortable
  15. Put Yourself in Their Position
  16. What About These Darn Standardized Test Scores?
  17. Make It Cool to Care 
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2017 Administrative Staff Development

New  Principals—from left, Larry Hood (Center Hill Middle), Tonja Hellums (Olive Branch Intermediate), Michaela Smith (Shadow Oaks Elementary), Stacey Pirtle (Oak Grove Central Elementary),  Supt. Cory Uselton, Carol Smith ( Lake Cormorant Elementary), Kenneth McKinney (Southaven Intermediate), Leighanne Wamble (Olive Branch Elementary) and Daniel Cooperwood (DCAC)

New Assistant Principals, from left, front row—Leanna Clark (Olive Branch Intermediate), Holly Steward (Southaven Intermediate), Helen West (Overpark Elementary), Crystal Bland Robinson (Lake Cormorant Middle); from left, second row, Supt. Cory Uselton, Andrew Edwards (Lake Cormorant Middle), Nick Eddelman (Southaven Middle) and Chris Harlow (Olive Branch Middle)

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Olive Branch High Has New Head Football Coach

     Tyler Turner has been hired as the new Olive Branch High School Conquistador football coach.

     Turner served as the head coach at Liberty Tech Magnet School in Jackson, Tennessee before accepting the position at OBHS.  He is credited for developing a state challenger with the team in two years.  He also served as an assistant coach at Wynne, Arkansas, and helped turn around their program.

     Principal Stripling said, “I reviewed all the candidates the Search Committee identified and I quickly knew that he was the guy.  When I met with the candidates, I stressed to them that I needed someone who was going to come in and be loyal to the community and loyal to the players for years to come. “

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Two DeSoto County School Music Teachers Recognized

      A total of 197 music teachers from 187 cities across the U.S. are quarterfinalists for the Music Educator Award presented by the Recording Academy and the Grammy Museum.  Two of these music teachers work for DeSoto County Schools.

     Jennifer Bourbonais, Overpark Elementary School, and Jamie Young, Lake Cormorant High School, made the select list.

     The Music Educator Award was established to "recognize current educators from kindergarten through college who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in the schools.”

     The award is open to current U.S. music teachers, and anyone can nominate a teacher.    

     “I am honored to represent Overpark, DeSoto County Schools, and the education of our state. Music in our schools really does have its place for every child and can provide opportunities for them to learn a love of music that will carry with them for the rest of their lives,” Bourbonais said. 

     The semifinalists will be announced in September.

     “I have no idea if I'll go on to be a semifinalist or not. Either way, I'm okay with it. I am truly part of the best district in our state and I believe one of the best districts in the nation. Any positive light I can bring to our school system locally or nationally is all to God's glory. I am just so grateful to be part of such a great district with leaders that truly care about our students and faculty and who promote music in our schools,“  Bourbonais added.

       Jamie Young said she also was honored and humbled to be a quarterfinalist for the Grammy Music Educator Award and to have this opportunity to shine a positive light on Lake Cormorant, DeSoto County Schools and music education.   

       “My philosophy for music education is to provide each student with a quality music education that will help develop the “whole” student,” Young said.  “An education that not only addresses many different learning styles but offers enrichment, team building and multicultural practices that the student can use throughout their life, to give my students the tools they need to be successful and lifelong learners of music. 

     The winner will be flown to New York to attend the 60th Annual Grammy Awards and a range of Grammy Week events. The nine additional finalists will receive a $1,000 honorarium, and the schools of all 10 finalists will receive matching grants.

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DeSoto Central Star Shines on a National Stage

     Braden Thornberry finished in the top 5 of the FedEx St. Jude Classic Golf Tournament.  This is the first amateur to get this rating since 1965.

     Braden, an Olive Branch resident, is a graduate of DeSoto Central High School.  He is a college sophomore at Ole Miss, and is 20 years-old.

     Geoff Calkins captured the essence of Braden Thornberry best. In Calkins recent Commercial Appeal article, he stated the following:

     The 2017 NCAA champion had a final round 65 in the FedEx St. Jude Classic. Thornberry finished -8 overall, tied for 4th in his PGA Tour debut. Here's what the Olive Branch native said after a Sunday to remember.

     "It was awesome. Had a pretty good gallery all week but obviously when you're up near the lead and a hometown guy there's gonna be some extra people out there so it was awesome having their support and I think the NCAAs was the perfect practice round for this week. You know having the ropes, the cameras, the people and stuff like that cheering you on so it was kind of a bigger version of that but you know it's still the same golf course and same golf."

     Thornberry also has the Haskins Award, the Heisman Trophy of golf. It is awarded to the top collegiate golfer in the United States. Others who have received the award include Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

     Click the link below to read the complete article written by Geoff Calkins as it appeared in The Commercial Appeal on June 10.

Calkins: Ole Miss' Braden Thornberry raises happy ruckus among FedEx St. Jude fans
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All-Female Choir Selected as a Featured Choir at the MS Music Educators Convention

     The arts are alive and well in DeSoto County Schools.

      Lewisburg High School’s Capriccio Women’s Choir has been selected to sing at the 2018 Mississippi Music Educators and American Choral Directors Association State convention in Hattiesburg, MS on March 23, 2018.

     “This is an honor usually awarded to one or two high schools every year, and we are beyond thrilled to be the ones selected this year,” said Jessica Contreras, the choral director at LHS since the school’s inception.

     “We now join a long line of DeSoto County Schools’ choirs who have been selected over the years including Horn Lake, Olive Branch, Southaven, DeSoto Central, Hernando, and Center Hill High Schools as well as Hernando Middle School,” she added. 

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HSES Receives Department of Defense Recognition

Hope Sullivan Assistant Principal Laura Hadaway accepts the award from Aubrey Ray, Mississippi ESGR Chairman, and Adjutant General J. Boyles.

     Hope Sullivan Elementary School won a Department of Defense award for going "Above and Beyond" to support the Guard and Reserve.

     HSES Assistant Principal Laura Hadaway accepted the award at the Employer Support Award’s Luncheon in Jackson, MS.

     The Above and Beyond Award is presented by ESGR State Committees to recognize employers at the local level who have gone above and beyond the
legal requirements of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act by providing their Guard and Reserve employees additional, non-mandated benefits such as differential or full pay to offset lost wages, extended health benefits, and other similar benefits.

     The award is given in limited numbers by State Committees to employers who have had at least one of their supervisors/managers recognized with a Patriot Award, and who have signed or agree to sign an ESGR Statement of Support.

     The Award is a Department of Defense award given to the employers on behalf of the Men and Woman of the National Guard and Reserves. 

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Record Number of CHMS Students Earn Technology Certification

     142 eighth grade students at Center Hill Middle School proved they are tech-savvy by earning a technology certification through Microsoft.

     Sheila Bruno and Shirley Harrison are the Technology Foundation teachers who taught these students and will be offering this certification to students next year.

     Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certification is the premier credential chosen by individuals seeking to validate their skills and advance their careers according to all online sources.

     Pursuant to Microsoft, MOS certification provides globally recognized industry endorsed evidence of individuals who are seeking to validate their knowledge, skills and abilities with Microsoft Office Word.

     The top scorers who earned the highest score in the shortest amount of time in Mississippi are Carson Ewing, Michael Johnson and Zach Medlin.

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Robison Honored

     School Board Member Michele Henley and Board Clerk Beth Cross look on as Superintendent Cory Uselton presents longtime administrative assistant with a plaque to recognize her years of service. Robison's retirement is effective June 30. Photo courtesy of Rob Long.

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The DeSoto County School District does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age in its programs and activities and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups.

DeSoto County Schools

Communications Department
Katherine Nelson, Director

Geri Hill, Graphic Designer

5 East South Street
Hernando, Mississippi 38632
Phone: 662-429-5271
Fax: 662-429-4198


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