JULY NEWSLETTER

FLEXIBLE PATHWAY TO A DIPLOMA

I t's one thing to talk about finishing up high school education years after the fact-but it is never too late. After all, life is different for everyone. We all have our own hopes and challenges, and the paths to success are just as varied as the people on this planet.
 
Surrounded by family, friends, and faculty members, graduates of The Families First for Mississippi Online High School Diploma Program received their diploma at graduations throughout the state. Many graduates from different backgrounds, struggles, and desires anxiously prepared to receive their high school diplomas to better their path of success and to provide for their families.
 
"The vision of always having my diploma was a goal I set after coming out of high school. I never knew when or how I might achieve that goal. But I knew I wasn't going to stop until I had done so. It's almost like a dream come true. This diploma is a pass in my life, showing that I have accomplished a major goal in life, and I feel I have many doors open to great opportunities in the real world," said Graduate Tierney Givens of Southaven.
 
The room was filled with plenty of tears, along with feelings of joy and happiness. Children were able to experience their parents accomplish something meaningful and be a positive role model in their lives.
 
Barbie Ducksworth, Education and Diploma Director, stated, "This program is an impactful one that can open doors for high school seniors who are unable to pass exit exams and adults who desire this credential as a requisite for moving their families forward." Click here to read more...

UnitedHealthcare Partner Spotlight

A donation of six laptops from UnitedHealthcare is set to aid Families First for Mississippi in providing resources to both children and adults across the state. 

Gifted by UnitedHealthcare the laptops will be split between the organization's resource centers in Jackson and in Tupelo, two of the organizations 21 centers in Mississippi.   Dr. Nancy New, Executive Director of Families First for Mississippi, was thankful for the donation, and noted that the laptops will be a valuable resource as the organization continues to grow. 

"They will help every student that comes in here," Dr. New said. "Whether it's with resume writing, our online high-school diploma program or job readiness, computers are essential. It is really building the capacity around the state that we are one."

Families First has also developed a partnership with the Department of Human Services to better assist Mississippians. Executive Director of MDHS John Davis was also on hand at today's event to celebrate the gifting of these new computers. 



Oxford Online High School Graduates 

Several of the students at the Oxford FRC/Families First completed their coursework in time for that graduation in early June. One of our students, Jhalil Coleman, completed his just after that and was able to walk in the ceremony at Itawamba Community College, Belden campus, in July.
   Jhalil had been a part of the program at our center since last August. We celebrated with him his accomplishment of receiving his high school diploma.
    "I feel overwhelmed and excited that I finally finished my high school classes," Jhalil said. "If I met someone who did not have a high school diploma, I would tell them about the NLRO program and FRC. The people here are nice, and they want to help everyone."
     Along with reading camps, a health fair, charter property events, and a coalition meeting in our office with other community organizations, the past couple of months have been productive and prolific.
--- Jeff Roberson, FRC Oxford



Families First Graduate in 
Hernando  has big plans!

Cody first walked into the Families First Resource Center - Hernando Campus (FRC) on January 11, 2018. Cody had been referred by the DeSoto County Circuit Court for the free, online high school diploma program. Cody, like many other students, was held back from graduating due to the sole fact that he did not pass the state test at the end of his 12th grade year. Fortunately, he knew that with a little hard work, he could change the outcome of his future!

     Cody was enrolled into the New Learning Resources Online (NLRO) diploma program on January 25th and over the next 5 months, he worked from the comfort of his own home and the Families First/FRC office in Hernando. He regularly met with NLRO Facilitator, Cyndi Lou Griffin, to work through difficult assignments and take exams. On June 28th, Cody completed his last, final exam and officially finished all required credits to earn his high school diploma! The entire FRC office celebrated his major accomplishment and even treated Cody to cupcakes as part of the celebration.

     Cody currently works as a Kitchen Manager at a local restaurant and has plans to enroll in culinary school after he walks at the NLRO Summer Graduation ceremony. Cody told FRC staff that he dreams of opening his own restaurant one day and wants to do everything that he can to make that dream happen. Cody said he wants nothing more than to see others succeed with him, and FRC believes he has the skills required to do just that at his very own restaurant. When asked to share words of encouragement for other students, Cody said, "Come to class and do the work. It's not as hard as you think it is. As long as you put your mind to it, you can be a high school graduate."

     Cody truly is an inspiration and everyone at FRC would like to congratulate him on his hard work and dedication! We look forward to hearing more great news from Cody as he follows his dreams and continues to strive for greatness!

    In an effort to provide students who are at risk of dropping out or failing to graduate a second chance, Families First for Mississippi offers students an option to earn a high school diploma in a flexible and hassle-free environment.  Whether a student wants to take a course in a private home, computer lab, or classroom setting, Families First for Mississippi can cater to those needs.

    Families First/FRC provides family support programs and education to serve the needs of families across Mississippi. Partnering with Mississippi Community Education Center (MCEC) in Families First for Mississippi which is a program that seeks to strengthen families of all backgrounds and life circumstances by providing education, youth development, parenting, workforce and job readiness through seminars, workshops, classes, and presentations. 



Families First Graduated 35 Students 
on the ICC Belden Campus!

Thirty -five students received their high school diploma at a commencement service held at the ICC Belden Campus.  These graduating students were a group who had missed receiving a diploma through the school system due to circumstances or conditions that precluded their attaining all the credits and checking all the boxes in the traditional manner.

   Christi Webb, Executive Director of The Family Resource Center of North Mississippi (FRC), addressed the 2018 Summer Graduating Class for the Families First for Mississippi (FFFM) NLRO high school diploma program, one of the many programs offered by FRC. 

   "They didn't get there by themselves; no one gets there alone. We have some of the very best teachers here at Families First for Mississippi and they are not only teaching in academics but teaching about life."  

    She added that it is not just about getting the diploma but what you can get from life after getting the diploma.

   "These students have worked so hard to get to this point and receive their diploma," Webb continued, explaining that some came to the program nervous and scared that they wouldn't be able to do this.  "One of my favorite Bible verses is 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13)' and I encourage you to remember this as you take your next steps."
    
    Information leads to inspiration; inspiration leads to application; application leads to transformation, Flint told the class, directing the graduates to take all the steps needed for a positive transformation in their life and career pathways.  "Celebrate what you have finished," he said, advising them to never stop moving toward continuous improvement and advancement.
   
   There were 35 graduates on this day and there are 35 success stories to be told.   While there might not be space enough to share each of these, one stands out about a young woman of 20 who has already overcome a field full of obstacles, against all odds, and moving toward an abundant life of service.



Kristen Michael's Calling: Helping Others
Clothing donated to FRC/Families First in Tupelo.

 
Kristin Michael of Baldwyn believes in helping people and making life better for others. That's why she has donated many clothes to the Clothes Closet at the Family Resource Center of North Mississippi/Families First in Tupelo.

"I was cleaning out things here at the house, and I was also helping at the church," Kristin said. "They were doing 'Neighbors Helping Neighbors.' I didn't realize there were as many people locally and in the surrounding areas who need help. The Lord laid it on my heart, as I was going through these clothes, that this was what I needed to do, to help people who are in need."

A lot of people may have clothes around the house they don't wear anymore or that they're tired of wearing. Kristin also had another reason for having a large number of clothes at her house.

"I lost a lot of weight, like a hundred pounds," she said. "So when the Lord told me to 'Take these clothes that you no longer wear anymore and give them to others,' I did."

Kristin said she's kept the weight off for five years, and she knew she would never need the clothes again.

"Christi (Webb) was my go-to person to give the clothes to," said Kristin, who lives near the FRC executive director. "As my mother and I talked, she suggested I ask Christi if she could use them (at FRC). So I went by there, and she said yes. I've taken clothes  throughout the past year, like three or four bags at a  time. It's a continuous thing for me. I took some to  them just the other day."

Kristin attended Blue Mountain College and Northeast Mississippi Community College. She has worked at Wheeler Head Start in Prentiss County for 18 years and before that for four years at Jericho Baptist Church Day Care in Union County.

"I've kept children since I was 13, and I knew that was what I wanted to do. I love children. I don't have any of my own. I love teaching and it brings joy to me to help families through teaching. I still stay in touch with some of the first group I taught at church daycare. They tell me what a difference I made in their lives, even at four and five years old. Some of them are married now and have children."

Helping people. That's rewarding for Kristin. That's also why when she saw those clothes, she saw more than things she didn't use anymore. And she knew what to do. 
   
"When the Lord said 'Go,' I did," Kristin said. "It's like the verse that says 'Go and Tell.' This was my mission. This is my 'Go and Tell' story."

And the people who seek help from the Family Resource Center have Kristin Michael to thank when they search the clothes closet and find what they need to take to their homes. 

"It gives me a sense that I've helped someone in need," she said. "It makes me feel proud that I can do that. The Bible says 'Love thy neighbor' and that is what I'm doing, giving them clothes and loving my neighbor by helping them out."  

Organization Lends Itself To 
Literacy and Education-Greenwood 
We want to impact the whole family.  It starts with education, 
and it starts at home. 
 
Families First for Mississippi's new resource center in Greenwood has a  lot to offer. In addition to two spacious training rooms, a state- of- the- art computer lab, modern
conference room, and professional clothing donation closet, the center's new home proudly  houses a unique but important resource known as the "family room".

"It's been a long time coming," says Regional Coordinator, Patsy Macon. "When I started 14  years ago, we were operating out of one room at the hospital. We only offered parenting classes  at that time. It's been exciting to watch us grow."
 Click here to read more... 


Mad CAAP Back to School Drive-Canton, MS

Families First has teamed up with MadCAAP in  Canton  to help gather school supplies for their Back to School Drive. We are asking for one subject spiral notebook. They can be dropped off through July 30, 2018 at the Families First Resource Center in  Canton , MS. (276 Nissan Parkway, Bldg. B, Suite 200 & 300). Please see attached flyer for more details or call Morgan Flournoy at (601) 667- 4427. 


Graduation  Ceremony in Jackson

As a means to raise graduation rates and better serve students at risk of falling behind or dropping out Families First for Mississippi offers students an option to earn a FREE online high school diploma in a flexible environment. Whether you want to take a course in your home, computer lab or classroom setting, Families First can cater to those needs. 100 students participated in the 2018 Summer Graduation Ceremony held at First Ridgeland Baptist Church.


UV Safety in Crystal Springs!

Fun times at the Crystal Springs Center. We handed out popsicles to bring awareness to UV safety. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. In fact, more skin cancers are diagnosed in the US each year than all other cancers combined!  Just one bad sunburn in childhood can double your little one's lifetime risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Young, sensitive skin is especially vulnerable to damaging rays, so protect your child by being sun-care savvy.



Vicksburg Community Baby Shower

Families First Resource Center in Vicksburg had the opportunity to participate in the Community Baby Shower put on by  Merit Health River Region - Timothy H Trotter MD , Excel By 5, and  United Way of the Capital Area . It was a huge success and we are looking forward to next year.


Paving Your Road To Success-Meridian, Ms

PAVING YOUR ROAD TO SUCCESS , an event sponsored by the Mississippi Department of Human Services was held on Thursday, July 12, 2018 at the Meridian Community College Workforce Center.  Jackie Sharp, Division of Workforce Development Staff Officer II, invited Families First for Mississippi along with other community partners, to speak of services and available resources as well as set up a booth to display information. John Davis, MDHS Executive Director, was in attendance for opening remarks.
Pictured below is John Davis, Mississippi Department of Human Services Executive Director, Gretchen Luvene, Center Coordinator, and Ted Dibiase Jr., Department of Human Services 

Back To School Bash in Waynesboro

The Nobles Foundation and ProAct launched the "Back to School" Bash in Waynesboro, MS on Friday, July 27th. Students learned about preparing for the ACT, credit analysis, heard from guest speakers about "what to expect after high school" and also received school supplies. 
 
Families First was there to present to the parents about the services that each center offers and how to utilize the services while their child is getting prepared for college and/or grade school.  
 
Officials say the bash was a community event where families could get more information to better prepare their children as well as get information to benefit the rest of the family. 

Talking Fingers with Dr. Herron 

Children learn to use symbols, combining their oral language, pictures, print, and play into a coherent mixed medium and creating and communicating meanings in a variety of ways.

Dr. Jeannine Herron, CEO of Talking Fingers says her passion for the importance of literacy came from her experience as a civil rights activist. 
 
Being married to a photojournalism, Matt Herron, Dr. Herron was able to walk in the funeral for civil rights activist Medgar Evers. That tragedy exposed Dr. Herron to children and families that struggled with literacy and had the lack of education with no opportunities to participate fully in society. In 1963 Dr. Herron and several colleagues was granted a million-dollar Head Start grant to teach underprivileged children in Mississippi, which was when Head Start was founded. 
 
Dr. Herron says "Teachers are not prepared to teach literacy. Reading and writing gives access to others mind and it stimulates children to see what other worlds are like."
 
Dr. Herron earned her Ph.D in neuropsychology learning how the student brain learns to read. Through her education and research, Dr. Herron formed "Talking Fingers." Talking Fingers is an evidence based literacy product that helps children learn how to read, write, and type. 
 
Families First for Mississippi has implemented an Early Childhood Service that will include Dr. Herron's Talking Fingers literacy book. Children and families will have access to the book and the software to improve their reading, writing, and typing skills. 
 
For more information on Talking Fingers, visit  www.talkingfingers.com or to learn about Talking Fingers within Families First, contact your local center by visiting   www.familiesfirstforms.org.
 


GET TO KNOW THE EXECUTIVE TEAM!

Dr. Nancy New
Executive Director of Mississippi Community Education Center
Dr. Nancy New holds a doctoral degree in educational leadership and administration  from the University of Southern Mississippi. She has dedicated her career to helping  others through K-12 teaching, school administration, and the founding of special  purpose schools, New Summit and North New Summit Schools. Simultaneously, Dr.  New founded the non-profit, Mississippi Community Education Center, to support  families and communities across the state. Dr. New has overseen Family First  Resource Centers for over 22 years, since the program's inception, and is jointly  overseeing the expansion of Families First for Mississippi. Families First  perfectly  aligns with Dr. New's vision for community education by connecting  services to  meet the needs of the whole family.

Mrs. Christi Webb
Executive Director of Family Resource Center of North Mississippi
Christi Webb holds a master's degree in education from the University of Mississippi  and has thirty graduate hours in psychology. She took the helm at FRC in 2006, after  having spent the prior thirty years as a devoted educator at Northeast Mississippi  Community College, where she served as: adjunct instructor, instructor, academic  advisor and Academic Division Director of the Social & Behavioral Science and  Physical Education Department. Webb's actions and commitment in her role as  Executive Director have been instrumental to FRC's growth and success in helping  families throughout the northern part of the state.