STARKVILLE — Starkville Utilities Department is the first program partner for Starkville High School’s academic houses.
SHS launched academic houses in fall 2019 as a way to prepare students for their potential career paths, and Starkville Utilities agreed to become the lead partner of the Technology, Engineering and Construction house at SHS. Superintendent Eddie Peasant said this will create a community- based learning approach that highlights local employers and to prepare students for the workforce.
“Starkville Utilities’ investment in our students connects the classroom to the workplace creating a new kind of high school experience through engaging hands-on opportunities that leverage students’ interest to make school more relevant,” Peasant said at a press conference Tuesday announcing the partnership.
Starkville Utilities General Manager Terry Kemp began discussions with the school district a few months ago about becoming involved with SHS. He said through partnering with the TEC house, he hopes his department can offer field trips, classroom visits, internships and mentorship opportunities to students interested in technology and science.
“At Starkville Utilities we’re excited as we look to the future, how we can partner as a part of this community to kind of enhance that experience, to provide opportunities for students to learn from a lot of different angles and then prepare them the very best to keep them motivated and see what the future can hold for them as well,” Kemp said.
SHS students declare an academic house at the end of their freshman year and take courses within that house throughout the rest of their time in high school. As the first school in Mississippi to offer career academy learning opportunities for every student, SHS allows students hands-on experiences and work-based learning lessons, and through Starkville Utilities’ partnership, students within TEC can learn techniques such as how electric and water services work or what life as an engineer is like.
The other two academic houses are the Health and Human Service house and the Communication, Arts and Business house.
Director of the Millsaps Career and Technical Center Lenora Hogan said she hopes this partnership will be a road map for other businesses to get involved with SHS’s academic houses.
“By having these business partners like Starkville Utilities, students are able to put skills into play with real-life experiences,” Hogan said.
In addition to the educational partnership, the Starkville division of Tennessee Valley Authority donated $2,000 to fund the makerspace within the TEC house. The funds for this makerspace, a room where students can lead through creativity, physically represents this public power partnership and will allow students to apply the skills they have learned, Director of Educational Enhancement and Innovative Research Brandi Burton said.
“We’re trying to get real world problems into the makerspace that are also associated with the local business industry so maybe that would make a lightbulb go off for students,” Burton said.
SHS Senior April Guo-Yue said she has watched the TEC house grow throughout her time in high school and knows partnerships like these will give students the experience they need to be successful in college and the future.
“This is allowing students to not only see themselves in that career but actually become better future leaders in our community,” Guo-Yue said.