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Virtual Career Talks Introduce Opportunities to Velma Jackson Students

The tree-lined stretch of Loring Road Extended in Camden, Miss., breaks, bringing a school into view. The gray and brick building with large letters announcing Velma Jackson High School stands stoically in the open area. Velma Jackson is one of the Madison County School district’s most rural schools.

Camden is less than 50 miles from the state capitol with a population of around 1,300 and an average household income of $37,017.  It is also unlike most of its district counterparts in that it is almost 100% Black and economically disadvantaged. Students in the small community often do not have the opportunity to meet people in the career fields that they dream of entering. However, one educator is working to change that by bringing those people into his classroom, virtually.

Greg Pigott got the idea during the 2020-2021 school year. Velma Jackson was one of several schools across the state that opted to run a modified school schedule during COVID. With students at home staring at screens, Pigott needed something to keep their attention and to help them learn the valuable lessons taught in his classes.

“There are great high-tech, high-paying careers in Mississippi that we want to let people know about, but we also want to show that there’s a great big world outside of Mississippi and outside of the United States that they can also be a part of,” Pigott told the Mississippi Free Press. “We want kids to make the best-informed decision based on the information we give—whether that’s to go to college, to go to community college, to go into the military, or to go be an entrepreneur.”

Dr. Carlotta Berry, an author of children’s STEM books and one of the leaders in robotic education in the country, speaks to Velma Jackson teacher Greg Pigott. Pigott has hosted more than 450 speakers to discuss their careers and backgrounds with his Velma Jackson High School students in Camden, Miss. Screenshot courtesy Greg Pigott

Pigott’s first guest was Chamar McDonald, a former star high-school athlete at Madison Central High School. McDonald was only 17 when he was drafted to

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