Home - Breaking News, Events, Things-To-Do, Dining, Nightlife


New STEM school matches governor’s plans for Mississippi

In his annual State of the State address in February 2024, Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, highlighted Mississippi’s recent improvement in education and the need for further progress. 

This is a mission shared by the SR1 College Preparatory and STEM Academy, a science- and technology-focused institution located within 20 miles of the high school area that the governor proposed using in his address.

Statement from the Governor

In his annual statement, Gov. Tate Reeves highlighted the progress Mississippi has enjoyed in the education sphere over the last few years, commonly known as the “Mississippi miracle.” This miracle references the state’s impressive feats in closing the test score gap it used to have with the rest of the US.

In 2013, Mississippi was the second-worst state for fourth-grade reading abilities. Yet by 2022, it had achieved a ranking of 21 out of all the states—a significant achievement. These improvements have been attributed to state policies like holding back third graders with poor reading skills and focusing on phonics to better cover the basics of literacy. The state has also boosted its graduation rates, which went from 75% (below the national average) in 2011 to 87% (above the national average) by 2020.

But the Governor doesn’t want to stop there, saying: “Now we must discover how to go from good to great.” To achieve this, he cited ambitions to embrace new education models, such as schools that take a fresh approach. The Mississippi School for Math and Science was named as one success story.  Located on the campus of Mississippi University for Women and aimed at academically gifted children, the school has become one of the best public high schools in the nation since launching in 1987.

A Call for More STEM Education

Gov. Tate Reeves proposed creating more schools dedicated to STEM subjects in Mississippi to recreate the success stories shown by projects like the Mississippi School for Math and Science.

He said in his speech: “I propose that we create 12 Mathematics and Engineering Magnet Schools throughout the state. By establishing eight Pre-K through 8th-grade schools and three more high schools, we can help to ensure Mississippi kids are given the education required to be successful in an increasingly technological economy.”

The state is also capitalizing on this growing technological economy outside of education, with Mississippi benefiting from various industry titans basing themselves in the state. Namely, there are plans to build an EV battery factory in Marshall County and two data centers in Madison County. Both of these will offer employment opportunities for students. 

Gov. State Reeves asked the Legislature to enact an apprenticeship education model for high school seniors, allowing them to opt for practical education over classrooms to gain skills if they so wish.

He even got specific by naming the location of the old Central High School as the perfect location for building more schools dedicated to growing the next generation of technologists and engineers. 

However, the governor seemingly failed to realize that a school recently opened that meets all his criteria and shares a similar vision: the SR1 College Preparatory and STEM Academy.

Introducing SR1

As its name suggests, SR1 is focused on STEM education and shares many of the objectives outlined in the governor’s address. 

Spanning 270 acres, the campus itself is a testament to science and technology, with various developments that allow students to benefit from first-hand learning.

One standout feature is its farm vernacular learning structure, which boasts constructions for egg harvesting, seasonal planting, and more. Other constructions of note throughout the school campus include:

  • Trail system spanning wetlands, rivers, woodlands
  • Earth tubes with climate control 
  • Controlled grow environments with climate control
  • Green growing towers and growing trays
  • Composting toilets

SR1 has a comprehensive STEM curriculum and ample extracurricular activities that facilitate STEM learning outside of the classroom. For instance, the school regularly runs trips to the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science.

The school is located on Towne Center Blvd, Ridgeland, which means it’s located within 20 miles of the Governor’s proposed central high school (and within 10 miles of the mega site).

While it’s still a fairly new project, SR1 enrolled 100 students for its 225 slots in grades K-2 for 2024-2025. It also plans to open a PreK to boost students’ learning before they start school, giving them the best start possible for a STEM education.

An Emphasis on Minorities

SR1’s focus on STEM has parallels with the Mississippi School for Math and Science. But while the aforementioned school is for gifted children only, the SR1 takes a different approach.

For one, it’s a free public charter school open to everyone.  The school also focused on promoting equity in STEM education — a point the Governor missed.  Minority groups like African American, Native American, and Hispanic students — as well as female students — often don’t enter STEM due to the lack of representation and failing to receive the much-needed foundational education early in their life.

SR1 aims to amend this issue through its partnership with a nonprofit (of the same name), which works with organizations in Mississippi to boost social mobility for minority groups.

An Exciting Time for Mississippi

Mississippi has already garnered a reputation across the US for its stellar educational offering and impressive advancements over the last few years. Going by success stories like The Mississippi School for Math and Science and upcoming developments that could make the state a center for technology and industry, its future may be even brighter. 

The SR1 School is showing strong potential for contributing to this positive future.

For more information visit our website at www.sr1cpsa.org , email: [email protected] or call: 769.275.0330.

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Read original article by clicking here.

Local Dining Stream

Things To Do

Related articles