Street Awarded UM Online Teaching Award

Journalism instructor honored for innovation in online instruction

The Ole Miss Online office recently announced that Robin Street, center, is this year’s winner of the annual Paragon Award for Excellence in Distance Learning. Blair McElroy, left, UM director of study abroad and adjunct instructor in the legal studies department, and Jason Solinger, associate professor of English, were named as runners-up. UM photo by Pam Starling

OXFORD, Miss.­­­ – Adjusting to the ever-changing world of public relations has been a constant in Robin Street’s career. Although she has taught at the University of Mississippi for more than 25 years, the courses she teaches and her teaching style are parts of that continual evolution.

Her efforts were recognized this month when she was awarded the eighth annual UM Paragon Award for Excellence in Distance Teaching.

“In some classes, such as history or math, the materials taught pretty much remain the same each semester,” Street said. “But this class looks at current public relations cases and situations. You never know when a situation will occur that creates a public relations nightmare for an organization.”

Last year, Street, a senior lecturer in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, worked to translate her Journalism 492: Public Relations Case Problems course into an online format. She credits her success in creating this course to looking at online course creation in a different way.

“I once attended a workshop on good writing called ‘Think Like a Fish,'” Street said. “The speaker, a renowned writing coach, explained the title. Her father was an excellent fisherman. When asked what his secret was, he replied, ‘I think like a fish.’

“In designing the online JOUR 492 class, I decided to think like a student. Today’s students have short attention spans and are very visual. They do not read lengthy documents, but prefer to skim instead. I thought about what would attract their attention in the class and filled the online class with folders, icons, charts, to-do lists and other visual reminders of what to do next.”

Each year, the UM Office of Online Design and eLearning recognizes a UM faculty member who has excelled in online teaching through the annual Paragon Award. The nominee must exhibit good practice in course design and innovative use of technologies. Nominees’ efforts are acknowledged for engaging students as well as their commitment to providing students with a quality education.

“While I expect that there will always be a need for an on-campus educational experience, the digital-immersive, online learning environment is growing and evolving,” said Noel Wilkin, UM acting provost, during the Paragon Award presentation April 7 in the Lyceum.

“In that realm, design and innovation enhance the educational experience. It is inspiring to see our faculty members dedicate considerable effort to innovate on this evolving platform.”

When asked about developing a successful online class, Street said that organization is key.

“The layout of the class was easy to follow and keep up with,” said Kailee Wilson, a December graduate from Allen, Texas. “The lesson folders were so convenient.

“We had everything for that week laid out so there was no reason or excuse for not knowing what to do. I especially loved the to-do lists that were posted each week.”

Street created a private Facebook page account where students were required to take part in weekly discussions about the class topics.

“I chose to use Facebook because the students were already comfortable with this medium,” Street said. “They were able to see photos and learn about each other from the very first post where they introduced themselves.

“They also responded and reacted to each other’s posts. Student comments about that experience were very positive.”

YouTube and other popular social sites also were used to give students a greater grasp on current PR situations and campaigns to discuss what strategies might be best for a PR professional in certain situations.

“Students are not just reading a text and listening to a lecture, but observing public relations at work,” Street said. “They can watch PR events take place in real time while visiting the sites of the organization being studied.

“Students are asked to watch videos to learn not just theory from the text, but realities of public relations practice and careers today.”

Sydney Rubin, a senior marketing and corporate relations major from Raleigh, North Carolina, said her favorite part of the class was creating PR plans.

“I am currently applying for jobs in public relations and companies are asking me for writing samples, “Rubin said. “Now, I have lengthy campaigns that I was able to create on my own and get feedback on as a part of this class. I now feel more confident applying for these jobs and submitting my work.”

By using multiple forms of media in the course, Street maximized student engagement and maintained their interests, said Wan Latartara, instructional designer and training specialist.

“Her course design did more than meet the eye,” Latartara said. “She strategically placed elements so to catch students’ attention and guide them through the course right from the beginning.

“By thinking like a student, Robin made a commitment to meet students where they are.”

This year’s runner-up category for the Paragon Award featured two online courses taught by Blair McElroy, UM director of Study Abroad and adjunct instructor in the UM legal studies department, and Jason Solinger, associate professor of English.

UM Summer Camps Help Students Explore Conservation and Ecology

Leadership program, day camps offer variety of experiences combined with fun activities

Second- through 12th-grade students are invited to learn more about environmental conservation and local ecology during special camps taking place at the UM Field Station this summer. The Ecology Day Camps run weekly from June 5 to July 14, and the Environmental Conservation Leadership Program is scheduled for June 4-9. Photo by Nathan Latil/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss.­­ ­– Students in second through 12th grades can participate in special camps this summer that focus on environmental conservation and exploration, offered by the University of Mississippi Field Station and the UM Office of Pre-College Programs.

Rising 11th- through 12th-grade students have an opportunity to explore environmental challenges facing Mississippi and the world as part of the Environmental Conservation Leadership Program scheduled for June 4-9.

Field Station Director Scott Knight says that he hopes this program can help students connect with nature and gain a better understanding of how our intertwined ecosystem functions.

“The camp provides a hands-on learning experience that teaches students more about how the planet works, how it heals, how it sustains all life and how we can live in balance with it,” Knight said. “If nothing else, I hope the participants will learn that their food doesn’t come from a grocery store but (from) a viable, living ecosystem.”

Participants will work with UM professors conducting research on issues associated with conservation, pollution control, water quality, ecosystem services and environmental stewardship.

The cost for residential students who would like to stay on campus during the camp is $500. The cost for commuter students is $350. Varying scholarships funds are available for participants, including Toyota Wellspring full funding for students who attend a public high school in Lee, Pontotoc or Union counties.

Younger campers can explore aspects of biology and environmental science during the 2017 Ecology Day Camps, also held at the UM Field Station. Students will participate in activities to identify species, learn about water quality, build bird nests, catch dragonflies and much more.

“I believe that one reason Ecology Day Camp is so popular is because of our great teachers and counselors,” Knight said. “And while they are teaching great lessons, our leaders never forget that it is summer and summer is a time for fun.”

Rising second- through fourth-graders can attend either June 5-9 or June 12-16. Rising fifth- and sixth-grade students will be attending June 19-23 and June 26-30. A special camp for older students, rising seventh- and eighth-graders, is set for July 10-14.

The camp runs 8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily and the cost is $175. Scholarship funds are available for children of UM faculty and staff.

Faculty member Melissa Dennis enrolled her son in Ecology Day Camp last summer for the first time.

“My son really enjoyed being outside and participating in activities with friends at the camp,” Dennis said. “I think one of his favorite activities was the parent-student cookout. I know I enjoyed it.”

For more information on these and other UM academic summer camp opportunities, visit http://www.outreach.olemiss.edu/pre_college.

UM Catapult Competition Draws Top Guns

Tishomingo County High School teams defeated 16 others to take home top honors

Members of the Hot-N-Spicy team from Desoto Central High School experience the joy of victory during the Siege the Castle event at UM’s annual Catapult Competition. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Normally, tennis balls volley back and forth on the tennis court, but Wednesday afternoon (April 12), the fluorescent yellow balls were being catapulted in the C.M. Tad Smith Coliseum at the University of Mississippi.

The School of Engineering, Center for Math and Science Education and Division of Outreach and Continuing Education hosted the 11th annual Catapult Competition. Middle and high school students from across Mississippi designed and constructed catapults and brought them to campus to test their engineering skills.

Catapults, which originated as ancient engines of war, hurl projectiles at targets. Among the most powerful medieval weapons, catapults known as trebuchets use a counterweight to propel their payload. Modern catapults use tension, such as a spring or elastic band, that is suddenly released to fling a projectile.

“This is the 11th annual Catapult Competition, formerly Trebuchet Competition,” said Tiffany Gray, research associate in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and co-coordinator of the event. “We changed the rules on what the students were building last year, so last year we changed the name to reflect this.”

In the UM competition, students designed and constructed catapults of metal, wood and PVC to hurl tennis balls across the field. Registering for the event were 17 teams representing eight schools: Central Hinds Academy, Desoto Central High School, Guntown Middle School, Lafayette Middle School, Oxford High School, Tishomingo County High School, Water Valley High School and West Jones High School.

UM engineering graduate students weighed and measured the catapults to make sure specifications were met. Catapults not meeting specs either had to be modified or were penalized points for not meeting the criteria.

Teams competed in Design, Pop-A-Shot, Humpty Dumpty and Siege the Castle categories. Catapults were scored on their design process, safety features, construction, creativity and originality, and team interviews.

First place overall went to America’s Mitochondria from Tishomingo County High School. Second and third places overall went to Sojourn, also from TCHS, and Memengineers from Oxford High School.

Students on the Enduring Frustration team from Tishomingo County High School are in the zone during the Siege the Castle event at the annual UM Catapult Competition.Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Winners in Pop-A-Shot were America’s Mitochondria (first), Indeed from Lafayette Middle (second) and Ultimus from Guntown Middle (third). In Humpty Dumpty, winners were America’s Mitochondria (first), Shorts from Central Hinds Academy (second) and Enduring Frustration from Tishomingo County (third). Siege the Castle winners were America’s Mitochondra (first), Hot-N-Spicy from Desoto Central (second) and Memengineers (third). In Design, Sojourn placed first, America’s Mitochondria took second and B.L.A.G.H. from Desoto Central came in third.

The Pop-A-Shot required teams to launch four shots from three different locations at a regulation basketball hoop. The Humpty Dumpty event called for teams to launch tennis balls in attempts to knock three cardboard boxes off a wall of blocks without disturbing the wall. The Siege the Castle competition required teams to use catapults to knock down a cardboard brick wall.

The Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence created 3-D-printed desktop catapults for the overall winners. Plaques made in the Mechanical Engineering Machine Shop were presented for each category. The overall winner was the team with the highest total score.

Six Ole Miss graduate students judged the entries: mechanical engineering majors Damian Stoddard of St. Louis, Cody Berrey of Meridian and Zach Wallace of Batesville; civil engineering major Grace McMahen of Union; geology and geological engineering major Alex Weatherwax of Williamsburg, Virginia; and physics major Sunethra Dayavansha of Kandy, Sri Lanka.

The Sojourn team intentionally went for a more creative design for its catapult, said Samuel Zafic, a senior at Tishomingo County High School.

“Most everyone goes for the traditional arm and bar design,” he said. “Going a different route allowed me to experience some of what it’s like to be in the engineering profession.”

Davis Powell, a junior also from TCHS, described the annual Division of Outreach program as “amazing.”

“I entered the competition last year because it looked like it would be fun,” said Powell, who hinted he might return to the university as a biochemical engineering major after he graduates in 2018. “It is fun, but it is also challenging. I definitely plan on coming back for next year’s competition.”

Middle and high school students from across the state of Mississippi participate in the 11th annual Catapult Competition at Tad Smith Coliseum. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Before the day’s final competitive event, participants faced off in preliminaries and made adjustments to their catapults. Sometimes, the machines broke during this process.

“It is impressive to see the tools come out and students making repairs to get their machine up and hurling again,” Gray said. “That is what the engineering experience is all about.”

The catapult project encourages students to think and use the engineering design process, engineering school staff members said.

“Each year, I see familiar faces from previous competitions,” said Matt Nelms of Oxford, a UM staff member who serves as the event’s co-coordinator. “It’s very meaningful to see these high school and middle school students mature and the extremely impressive engineering solutions they come up with at such young ages. Their intelligence always exceeds our expectations.”

In medieval times, trebuchets were more accurate than other catapults, which use tension or torsion to fire projectiles. In modern times, trebuchets have become popular devices for hurling pumpkins, frozen turkeys or even junk cars in light-spirited competitions.

For more information about the School of Engineering, visit http://engineering.olemiss.edu/.

For more about the Center for Math and Science Education, go to http://umcmse.com/. For more about the Division of Outreach, visit http://www.outreach.olemiss.edu/.

Toyota Wellspring Scholarships Available for UM Summer Camp Programs

Middle and high school students in Lee, Pontotoc and Union counties encouraged to apply

Several UM summer camps for middle and high school students, including ones focusing on engineering and STEM fields, have been chosen for the 2017 Toyota Wellspring Education Scholarship fund. The scholarships will pay full costs for select academic summer camps on the Oxford campus for students who attend public schools in Lee, Pontotoc and Union counties. UM photo by Bobby Steele

OXFORD, Miss.­­­ – Sixth- through 12th-grade students who attend public schools in Lee, Pontotoc and Union counties can take advantage of special scholarships that will pay all costs associated with attending select University of Mississippi summer camps this year.

“We are so happy to see local students receive scholarships that will help them expand their knowledge and future opportunities during these various summer camps,” said Ellen Shelton, UM director of pre-college programs.

Numerous weeklong camps offered on the Oxford campus by the Office of Pre-College Program have been approved for 2017 funding by the Toyota Wellspring Education Scholarship Committee at the Northeast Mississippi CREATE Foundation.

“The Toyota Wellspring Committee believes that summer camps can provide important enhancement in the educational process,” CREATE President Mike Clayborne said.

Interested students can use the funding to attend one-week overnight camps on the Ole Miss campus. Some programs have an application fee of $25.

The scholarship will provide full funding for students interested in attending the university’s Engineering Camp, STEM Camp for Girls, “Summer Days of Intrigue” Intelligence Studies Camp, Environmental Leadership Camp, CSI Camp, “Code Monkeys” Camp, Rebel Chefs Cooking Camp and Theatre Camp.

Students also can receive the scholarship if they choose to attend the UM Summer Academy ACT Prep, Debate or Introduction to Engineering sessions. Summer Academy is a two-week residential experience on campus.

These particular camps where chosen for scholarship funds because the special emphasis areas can help students master areas such as career exploration, science, creativity, presenting, time management, design and problem solving

“The Toyota Wellspring funding will allow students to learn more about an area that they might not have access to at their schools,” Shelton said. “These scholarships help cover costs for families and provide students with an academic experience on the University campus that is fun and enriching.”

Interested students can visit the pre-college programs summer camps website at http://www.olemiss.edu/precollege for camp dates and more information. Students are asked to complete a program scholarship application and indicate Toyota Wellspring Scholarship on that form.

Faculty, Students Prepare for Learning Adventures Across the Country

StudyUSA program participants take courses in a variety of cities this summer

University of Mississippi students joined biology professor Erik Hom and education professor Renee Cunningham for a StudyUSA Biology course taught in Hawaii over the 2017 Wintersession. The StudyUSA program has a full course schedule of travel learning experiences for UM students and faculty members coming up this summer. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss.­­ – This summer, University of Mississippi students will be eyewitnesses to the raising of Tappan Zee bridge in New York City, meeting with Pulitzer Prize-winning staff at The Washington Post and visiting Google’s headquarters in California.

These are just a few of the learning adventures that students have opportunities to experience when they enroll in a StudyUSA course during UM summer school sessions.

“My StudyUSA experience is hands-down one of the best things I have ever been a part of,” said Jontae Warren, a UM junior majoring in pharmacy. “I never would have thought I would get a chance to do scientific research in Hawaii with my professors.”

Warren, of Booneville, took part in Biology 380: Hawaiian STEAM: Microbes, Symbiosis and Culture in Honolulu during the recent Wintersession. Led by Erik Hom, UM assistant professor of biology, and Renee Cunningham, assistant professor of education, the class journeyed throughout the island of Oahu collecting and processing samples in hopes of finding new species and developments.

“It truly was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to do something like this,” Warren said.

Housed in the UM Division of Outreach and Continuing Studies, the StudyUSA program is designed to give faculty and students opportunities to learn about an academic subject firsthand outside the traditional classroom setting. These short-term domestic travel classes are typically offered during the university’s summer, winter and intersession terms. Ole Miss students can explore the United States while earning college course credit to use toward graduation requirements.

Several new classes are on the StudyUSA schedule for summer 2017. During May intersession, Chris Mullen, associate professor of civil engineering, will lead Engineering 497 to study bridge structures in New York City.

The class will meet on the Oxford campus May 17-19 and then travel to New York May 21-26. While there, students will meet with experts concerning the art and science of bridge design. They will also learn about construction, rehabilitation and maintenance of the Big Apple’s most famous bridges when they visit the Brooklyn Bridge, the George Washington Bridge and the new Tappan Zee Bridge.

The 2016 election cycle and inauguration of a new president provides plenty of material for Marvin King’s StudyUSA course POL 389: Political Media, taking place May 21-26 in Washington, D.C.

“I’m hoping this class will help students gain a better understanding of how politics and journalism intersect,” said King, associate professor of political science. “They will have the opportunity to meet with media who cover our government in real time.

“Students can gain a greater understanding of the pressure journalists and politicians are both under when dealing with the public.”

Jontae Warren (left), from Booneville, combed the island of Oahu, Hawaii, collecting and processing plant and animal samples during UM’s 2017 Wintersession as part of the StudyUSA program. Submitted photo

In June, Jennifer Sadler will lead the new course IMC 353: Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship in San Francisco and the Silicon Valley. Students will learn about digital marketing tools and strategies while meeting with entrepreneurs and start-up business leaders to explore business development and digital marketing.

This program is for students majoring in integrated marketing communications, journalism or business, those minoring in entrepreneurship, and anyone interested in these fields.

“I hope this class will give students a broad worldview and help them to expand their network,” said Sadler, an instructor in integrated marketing communications. “We are planning visits to Google and Facebook headquarters and will be learning more about community action plans and partnerships.”

Also new this summer in the StudyUSA program lineup will be Writing 399: Travel Writing in Austin, Texas, set for Aug. 1-7. While visiting some of the city’s popular and off-the-beaten-path attractions, writing and rhetoric instructor Jeanine Rauch will teach students to apply a range of rhetorical methods for conveying their travels through the written word. Students will spend time gathering ideas, writing and recording their experiences.

A variety of courses for various majors and interests are being offered this summer. The full summer 2017 UM StudyUSA course listing can be found at http://www.outreach.olemiss.edu/studyusa.

Scholarships are available. The application deadline for summer 2017 classes is April 6.

UM-DeSoto Graduate’s Career Soars

Alumna manages inventory accounting for Endeavor Air

Heather Gatzke

SOUTHAVEN, Miss. – After earning her degree in finance from the University of Mississippi at DeSoto Center-Southaven, Heather Gatzke’s career has reached great heights.

The 2011 graduate works for Endeavor Air as a manager of inventory accounting. Her journey with the airline began while she was still in school at UM-DeSoto.

“While I attended UM-DeSoto, I worked for Memphis-based Pinnacle Airlines as an aircraft parts buyer,” Gatzke said. “About six weeks before I graduated, a financial analyst position opened and I applied. I was offered the position and started in early September of 2011.”

From there, Gatzke began to climb the corporate ladder at Pinnacle, which became Endeavor Air after being purchased by Delta Air Lines.

“In May 2013, Delta relocated our corporate offices to Minneapolis,” she said. “Prior to the relocation, I was offered the position of manager of revenue, which I held until January of 2016, when I transitioned to the manager of inventory accounting.”

With initial plans to attend pharmacy school, Gatzke hadn’t always considered a degree in finance. After receiving her associate degree in business from Northwest Mississippi Community College, she experienced the deaths of two grandparents and an uncle.

Gatzke made the difficult decision to take a break from school and reevaluate her goals.

By the time she was ready to go back to school, UM-DeSoto officially offered the finance program. She was able to take advantage of the 2+2 partnership with NWCC.

“Through research and lengthy discussions with friends, I decided that the degree in finance from Ole Miss was the best fit for me,” Gatzke said.

Gatzke thrived in the finance program. She said the material she learned was excellent in terms of its application to the real world. She became close to faculty mentors, one of which was clinical assistant professor of finance Lynn Kugele.

Her professors had “very high expectations” and were “eager to share their knowledge,” she said.

Gatzke said she was honored to earn the Outstanding Graduate in Finance designation that year.

“My entire academic career was as a nontraditional student, attending classes at night, on weekends and online,” she said. “I put a lot of pressure on myself to obtain a certain GPA. All I did for three years was go to work during the day and go to class at night. If I wasn’t at class I was studying or doing homework.

“Graduating summa cum laude was already enough of an honor. It just proves how hard work and dedication can pay off.”

Kugele applauds both Gatzke’s academic and career successes.

“Heather is easily one of the most outstanding finance students we have had at Ole Miss-DeSoto,” she said. “Her career path upon graduating is exactly what we hope will happen for our graduates: a move into the field of their choice and continued opportunities to move up.

“The combination of Heather’s work ethic and an Ole Miss finance degree gave her the credentials she needed to start that move up the corporate ladder. Though Heather is in Minneapolis now, we have kept in touch and get to visit in person when she comes home to visit family.”

Gatzke encourages other students to consider pursuing a finance degree and a “quality education” at UM-DeSoto. She plans to further her education by pursuing an MBA in the future.

For more information about finance and the University of Mississippi’s regional campus in Southaven, visit http://www.olemiss.edu/desoto.

UM-DeSoto to Host Informational Events for NWCC Students

Regional campus staff aims to assist students with enrollment in a bachelor's degree program

UM-DeSoto partners with Northwest Mississippi Community College to help students finish their bachelor’s degrees. The campus is hosting two events in March to assist students with the enrollment process. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

SOUTHAVEN, Miss. – Northwest Mississippi Community College students who plan to transfer into a University of Mississippi bachelor’s degree-completion program are invited to two upcoming events at the university’s Southaven regional campus.

The first event, 2+2 Transfer Day, is slated for 10 a.m.-noon and 3-5 p.m. March 8 in the lobby of the NWCC DeSoto Center at 5197 W.E. Ross Parkway. Students will have a chance to sit down with advisers from all the campus’ degree programs, visit with financial aid and admissions staff, and enjoy refreshments while they are helped through the enrollment process.

“Transferring can be overwhelming, and 2+2 Transfer Day aims to simplify it,” said Blake Bostick, admissions counselor for the regional campus. “The event is a ‘one-stop shop’ for students to learn about degree programs, financial aid, admissions and anything else they need to know about transferring to the University of Mississippi-DeSoto.”

Additionally, during NWCC’s spring break, students can take advantage of “Catch a Break.” For one week only, application fees are waived for students who complete an admissions application for the UM-DeSoto campus.

To participate in Catch a Break, students should visit the main office at the DeSoto Center from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week of March 13-17, meet with an admissions counselor to go over their transcript, and complete an application for summer or fall 2017.

“By attending these events, we hope students will gain a better understanding of the opportunities available at Ole Miss-DeSoto,” Bostick said.

NWCC graduating sophomores, as well as freshmen, are encouraged to attend both events. For more details or for general information about UM-DeSoto, visit http://www.outreach.olemiss.edu/desoto/.

University to Host Open House for 2017 K-12 Summer Camp Options

Locals invited to stop by Feb. 7 for info about variety of academic summer programs available

RebelQuest participants watch as a counselor tests one of their Lego bridges by loading the structure with water bottles to determine how much weight it can bear. The Office of Pre-College Programs will host an open house 4-6 p.m. Feb. 7 at the Yerby Conference Center so parents can learn more about the more than 20 academic summer camp options available to K-12 students in a variety of subjects and formats. UM photo by Larry Agostinelli

OXFORD, Miss.­­­ – Summer activities for school-age children are a hot topic this time of year as parents look to secure spots and decide on the best camp options for their children.

Local parents can get a head start on planning a fun academic experience for their children this summer when the University of Mississippi Office of Pre-College Programs hosts an open house Tuesday (Feb. 7) at the E.F. Yerby Auditorium.

The come-and-go event is set for 4 to 6 p.m. Camp directors and staff will be on hand to answer questions about the 20 different academic camps taking place at Ole Miss this summer for rising first- through 12th-grade students. Information will also be provided concerning costs, financial aid and payroll deduction options.

Anna Sayre, of Oxford, recently registered her 9-year-old daughter Nora for the university’s popular Rebel Quest weekly camps available for three age groups of elementary school children.

“I wanted my daughter to have a fun learning experience this summer,” Sayre said. “It is convenient for her to be on campus so close to my office, and the weekly camp options were reasonably priced. I think the variety and different subject matters will keep learning interesting for her over the summer.”

The camps provide opportunities for both academic and personal development for K-12 students.

The goal of these on-campus summer academic programs and camps is to bridge the gap between secondary and post-secondary education for area youth. Children have opportunities to develop skills and garner interest in a variety of academic areas.

“There can be this learning gap that takes place in the summer months,” said Matthew DeLoach, director of student services for UM Pre-College Programs. “That’s why these summer academic exploring opportunities are so important.”

CSI Summer Camp participants photograph and document a body in a staged crime scene as well at gathering data on other evidence at the University of Mississippi. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Along with Rebel Quest for younger ages, a variety of week and monthlong camps are offered for middle and high schoolers to sharpen their skills in a number of areas, including creative writing, ecology, engineering, math and theater.

Resume and transcript-building options also are available for high school students preparing for college.

The UM Summer College for High School Students provides an opportunity to enroll in six hours of college credit courses while developing friendships and independence. Session one is offered May 30-June 27, with session following on June 29-July 28.

As with all programs for middle and high school students offered by the Office of Pre-College programs, students have the option to stay on-campus or commute to campus during the sessions.

For more information about the variety of summer youth program opportunities, stop by on Feb. 7 or visit http://www.outreach.olemiss.edu/summercamps.

UM Communiversity Classes Offer Variety of Enrichment Activities

Several new options this spring to include Latin dancing and sushi making

Dance instructor Arman Sahakyan will lead a four-week course in ‘Ballroom and Latin Dance with Arman’ at the Turner Center as part of the spring Communiversity lineup.

OXFORD, Miss.­­­ – Trying something new this spring might be the spark that energizes you for the new year, and the University of Mississippi Communiversity program has a great lineup of classes ready to help you explore new subjects and hobbies.

A full slate of enrichment course opportunities are scheduled this spring to help participants learn more about technology, healthy living, baking, floral design, landscaping and more. The schedule even includes a free cooking class! The full spring class schedule can be found online at http://www.outreach.olemiss.edu/funclassnews.

Last fall, Carol McGonagill gifted her sister Ginger Patterson, both of Oxford, with the Communiversity class “Intro to Essential Oils.” The two enjoyed learning about different plants and minerals beneficial to healing and good health.

“The class was awesome,” Patterson said. “I learned so many different ways to take care of my body without needing to turn to medication.”

Patterson is looking forward to learning more about this subject in the second part of the class, being offered this spring on the Ole Miss campus. The “Advanced Essential Oils-Lifestyle Change” class is offered from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, April 11, 18 and 25 in the E.F. Yerby Conference Center.

Participants get to try their hands at creating oil-based blends that are perfect for bath, body and home. They also will learn to safely replace household, personal care and wellness products with essential oils. Each person will leave with samples made in class. The cost is $85 plus a $9 materials fee.

The spring 2017 Communiversity schedule kicks off Feb. 1, with Jeff and Kathleen Taylor of Oxford’s Sweet T’s Bakery, who were contestants recently on Food Network’s “Cake Wars” program. Come find out all their secrets to decorating like the pros during the new “DIY: Make Award-Winning Cake Designs” from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Oxford-University Depot. The class cost is $75 plus a $9 materials fee.

Communiversity will host a free class Feb. 8 at the Institute for Child Nutrition on Hill Drive. From 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., registered dietitian Mariana Jurss will teach participants to make “Delicious Soups to Warm Your Body and Soul,” including such favorites as potato corn chowder and catfish stew. Although there is no charge for this class, interested people are encouraged to register as soon as possible. Seats are limited. 

Gardeners will have several opportunities to plan for their spring gardens and learn floral design from area professionals during the popular lunch-and-learn classes that return this spring. Each class, offered from noon to 1 p.m. at the UM Depot, costs just $10.

The lunch-and learn-series kicks off with guided tips for “How to Create a Beautiful Hummingbird Garden” taught by Mitch Robinson from Strawberry Plains Audubon Center. Learn how to attract and support hummers and other pollinators with native plants and habitat enhancement on March 22.

The following week, Jordan Brown, of Oxford’s Discount Building Materials design center, will share tips on easy-to-do, affordable tablescapes and eye-catching centerpieces. Learn how to decorate your Easter table on March 29.

Proper techniques for pruning trees and shrubs will be taught during “Spring Pruning with Jeff McManus” on April 26. McManus will share tips from his book “Pruning Like a Pro” during the final lunch-and-learn of the season.

Oxford Floral’s Whitney Pullen will demonstrate how to pair different flowers to complement any theme during the hands-on course, “Making a Beautiful Spring Bouquet,” set for 5:30-7:30 p.m. May 4 at the Yerby Center. Participants will be inspired to pair different flower variations and design ideas for weddings and home decorating, and everyone will design their own arrangement to take home. The cost is $69 plus a $10 materials fee.

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, couples might enjoy “Ballroom and Latin Dance with Arman.” Learn step-by-step instructions with expert dance instructor Arman Sahakyan. The class will be taught 6-8 p.m. Feb. 16 and 23 and March 2 and 9 at the Turner Center dance studio. The cost is $69.

Arman will host a free meet-and-greet to discuss his class from 6:45 to 7:45 p.m. Feb. 9 at the Turner Center. There is no charge for this introductory event, but registration is required, at http://www.outreach.olemiss.edu/communiversity/classes_dance.html.

Many locals remember the popular Two Stick sushi restaurant on the Oxford Square. Sushi chef Jesse Mullin was trained by the owners of the former hot spot and will share tips on how to create your own Rebel Roll at home. Join him from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. April 10 at the Depot to learn to make the perfect sticky rice and sushi’s most popular sauces. The class fee is $39 plus $9 for ingredients.

Helping local first responders communicate effectively will be discussed in the new class, “Medical Spanish for Emergency Responders,” offered 6-7:30 p.m. Feb. 28 and March 3, 7 and 9 in Lamar Hall, Room 133.

The instructor starts with the basics of Spanish pronunciation and then moves on to simple words for everyday emergency situations. This class will provide basic knowledge needed when working with a Spanish-speaking patient. This class is perfect for first responders, EMTs, police officers and all medical personnel. The cost is $85.

A wide variety of classes are available for local professionals this spring, including “Marketing Your Business Using Social Media” offered from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 13, 20 and 27 in Weir Hall, Room 104. The cost is $69. Learn to set up social media sites for your business, generate targeted leads using Facebook ads and increase traffic to your website.

Find out more about these and the variety of other classes available this spring at http://www.outreach.olemiss.edu/funclassnews or call 662-915-7158 to request the spring class brochure.

Schools Look to DeSoto Writing Center for Insight

Faculty and staff offer advice, resources for development of middle and high school centers

Josh Green (right), director of Independence High School’s writing center, oversees a tutoring session with students Josh Figures and Martasia Copeland. Green reached out to the University of Mississippi – DeSoto Writing Center for resources and ideas. Submitted Photo

SOUTHAVEN, Miss. – As director of the Writing Center at the University of Mississippi at DeSoto Center-Southaven, Jeanine Rauch sees the value of honing writing skills early.

“Ultimately, writing is clear thinking,” said Rauch, an instructor in the university’s Department of Writing and Rhetoric. “When students are confident in their own writing, the writing process becomes more focused on audience and purpose, which leads to clear communication.”

The Writing Center at the UM regional campus offers free services designed to help students become stronger writers and critical thinkers. Teachers from DeSoto and Tate counties recently visited the center to glean ideas for creating and developing writing centers at their respective schools.

“Incorporating a middle school or high school writing center introduces the importance of writing and helps students become more aware and connected to their own writing,” Rauch said. “Peers helping peers allows for a collaborative conversation through the writing process.”

Robert Cummings, chair of the university’s Department of Writing and Rhetoric, said that Rauch’s leadership at the writing center “knows no bounds.”

“(Rauch) has long been of great service to her students, the students of the University of Mississippi, and to students at Northwest Mississippi Community College,” Cummings said. “Not content with this level of contribution, she is now extending opportunities for designing supplemental peer literacy instruction to her partners in the K-12 environment.

“Her work is truly exceptional and exemplifies the best work of writing centers on a national level.”

Tarra R. Taylor, English teacher and writing center director at Hernando Middle School, met with Rauch this summer.

“Teaching writing is a passion that I have,” Taylor said. “So, in an attempt to do what I love to do, I wanted to offer something to my school that would not only benefit the students that I teach but also the entire student body.”

Taylor began by reading and researching writing centers in colleges and secondary schools.

“Jeanine and her team of consultants were more than welcoming and helpful,” she said. “They informed me of how their writing center was run and offered me suggestions for the middle school level.”

The DeSoto Writing Center team provided Taylor with a number of resources, including “The Bedford Guide for Writing Tutors,” a sample writing center feedback survey, a tutor script and relevant articles. Rauch and one of the center’s consultants even accompanied Taylor when she presented the idea to faculty at Hernando Middle School.

Many students enter middle school with “negative attitudes toward writing,” Taylor said. This could stem from a lack of confidence or limited writing skills, she said.

“When the confidence level of students is built, students will want to write more,” she said. “In turn, writing achievement will be positively affected.

“The end goal is for students to become effective written communicators. They will write for a plethora of purposes and audiences; therefore, writing skills are important in order for them to be successful at it.”

The Hernando Middle School Writing Center launched Nov. 14. Taylor is confident that the center will make an impact on her students.

Josh Green, English teacher and writing center director at Independence High School, also recently met with Rauch. Green’s writing center began in 2014 under the direction of Jason Jones, the writing center director at Northwest Mississippi Community College.

When Green was named director, he began investigating new ways to develop the center.

“As a teacher consultant for the University of Mississippi Writing Project, I know firsthand the quality work that Ole Miss does within the field of writing,” Green said. “I knew that (Rauch’s) work with the writing center could provide critical insight and perspective for us. Jeanine and the writing center staff members were extremely helpful and personally met with us. “

This year, Independence High School’s center has served some 20 students so far.

“They have shown significant improvement and most have now visited more than once, which is exciting for us,” he said. “We love the fact that students are beginning to feel comfortable and continue to come back. Some of them have even become our biggest recruiters.”

Green recognizes the role that writing plays in student success.

“Writing is a vital skill that essentially permeates all academic disciplines and endeavors,” he said. “Whether it is at the elementary, secondary, post-secondary or corporate level, writing is a key component in succeeding in any field.

“Writing is not a vacuum skill that is applicable and/or useful only to students pursuing an English degree or a career in technical writing, but rather it is something that is used in practical facets of life such as: resume writing, surveys, engineering field reports, research proposals, etc.”

Rauch encourages schools to consider the development of a writing center.

“Writing centers create both a learning and collaborative space where students help each other improve upon their writing skills,” she said. “Students who frequent a writing center become more engaged with their own writing which leads to finding their own unique voice.”

For more information about UM-DeSoto’s writing center, visit http://www.outreach.olemiss.edu/desoto/current/writingcenter.html.