Workforce Pipeline

Monroe County, MS, is full of great schools with students bursting with potential in the Workforce Pipeline. Please take a moment and read about a few of the accomplishments from some of our local school districts.


Career Readiness Info

Are you ready for a new career? A better career? Let Itawamba Community College help you land a better job by showing potential employers your skill set. Call the WIN Job Center at 662-256-5617 to set up your FREE* test today.

Career Readiness Info

Download your Career Readiness Info PDF here.

*The test is FREE for anyone taking the test for the first time.


Manufacturing Skills Basic Certification Program











Amory School District Named Top 10 in Best Mississippi Schools

When planning a move, a city’s educational system is an important factor to consider. After all, where your child attends school could profoundly affect their future. So, with the help of, we’ve put together this list, which is based on the most recently released test score data by the Mississippi Department of Education. Want to know just how ranked the state’s districts? You can check out the company’s ranking system here. So without further ado, here are the cities with the top school districts in the state….continue reading

Posted in Mississippi / September 07, 2015 / by Daniella DiRienzo


ICC selected as recipient for ACT’s College and Career Readiness Campaign

Itawamba Community College has been selected as the Mississippi Career Preparedness Award recipient for ACT’s College and Career Readiness Campaign.

ICC representatives will attend the award ceremony during the Mississippi ACT State Organization Conference, June 16, at the Clyde Muse Center in Pearl.

“Our council membership felt that your application and data demonstrated that Itawamba Community College made significant strides in helping its students prepare for success in the workforce or in continuing their education,” according to Christy Broome, chair of the Mississippi ACT State Organization. “On behalf of the entire Mississippi ACT State Organization, I would like to offer my congratulations to you on this prestigious statewide award.”

The award was due, in part, to ICC’s selection as the largest WorkKeys assessor in the state last fall. As a result of WorkKeys testing, the College awarded 2,743 Career Readiness Certificates from July 2013-June 2014, more than double the number by the community college which placed second and 28 percent of all CRCs awarded.

WorkKeys is a job skills assessment program that helps employers select, hire, train, develop and retain a high-performance workforce, according to ACT which has developed the test. It measures foundational and soft skills and offers specialized assessments to target institutional needs. ACT’s WorkKeys has helped millions of people build their skills to increase global competitiveness and develop successful career pathways. Applied mathematics, locating information and reading for information form the basis of the ACT National Career Readiness Certificate™. Levels of certificates include platinum, gold, silver and bronze.

“Employers in our region have come to value the assessment as part of the employment process,” said James Williams, vice president of Economic and Community Services, whose division is responsible for administration of the WorkKeys. “ICC has strong relationships with employers as demonstrated by training programs with more than 30 employers and more than 100 paid internships. Many employers now require the WorkKeys when considering students for placement.” Internships in ICC’s career and technical education programs require a silver Career Readiness Certificate to qualify.

“Itawamba Community College is committed to providing the services needed to equip both the workforce of the present as well as those for generations to come,” said ICC President Mike Eaton. “The awarding of a significant number of Career Readiness Certificates through WorkKeys testing and other ACT assessments is indicative that our focus is on target. It is our mission to ensure a better future for all of us in Northeast Mississippi.”

The College also cited in its evaluation for the award its selection as one of the nation’s top community colleges by the ASPEN prize committee in 2013 and 2015, receipt of a significant grant award from the Blue Cross & Blue Shield Foundation and its commitment to the environment through its designation as the first college to earn six sustainable stars from The Institute of Sustainability.

ICC will advance to a selection process for national semifinalists of other statewide exemplars as part of this ACT Campaign. The selected finalist will be recognized as the National Exemplar and will be honored at an ACT Gala in Washington, D.C., June 9.

Author: ICC News  /  Friday, April 24, 2015


Amory Rocket Teams pull repeat with another invitation to nationals


The Amory High School Rocket Team will be traveling to Washington D.C. May 9 to compete in the Team America Rocketry Challenge. From left, back row: Kade Abbott, Hagen Gurley, Wes Colbert, Brock Balducci and Bo Balduccil. Front row, from left: Taylor Robbins, Jordan Ginn, Ashley Fullerton, Yen Nguyen, Sarah Box, Hannah Schmook and Locke Burrell.

AMORY – Mississippi has three teams  competing in the Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC) in Washington D.C. this year, and two of them are from Amory High School.
The teams will compete May 9 in the first fly-off competition and, hopefully, in the final round that same day.
TARC, an extracurricular, hands-on project that is modeled around the aerospace industry’s design, fabrication and testing processes, is now in its 13th year, and is currently the only aerospace-specific national STEM competition.
Students participate in teams to design, build and fly a rocket. They work within specific design parameters to achieve the goal of hitting a precise altitude, landing within a specific time window and returning a raw egg without it cracking.
TARC guidelines specify that, in the first round, the rocket must reach an altitude of 800 feet within 46 to 48 seconds. The second round specifies that the rocket must reach an altitude of 750 feet within 45 to 47 seconds.
Members of the AHS rocket club teams say they worked on their rockets about 10 hours a week, after school and on weekends since February with the help of Greg Stewart of Aurora Flight Technologies in Columbus.
There are two teams this year because there are so many students involved.
“He volunteered his time to give us advice and instruction. He was our Yoda,” said team member Bo Balducci.
This year is the sixth year that AHS has had a rocket team and the second year the school has had a team to advance to nationals. Amory is the only returning team from the state. Last year, the AHS Rocket team finished 10th in the nation out of 1,000 teams.
The third team representing Mississippi this year is from Tupelo High School.
Mary Beth Black, AHS AP physics instructor and rocket team sponsor is proud of her students.
“The news is full of stories of teenagers that are getting it ‘wrong.’ These stories portray teens as apathetic, self-centered and lazy. As a high school teacher, I have a unique perspective of tomorrow’s workforce and leaders. My students are talented, bright, gifted, hard workers, respected, fun, creative, joyful, athletic, dedicated. These are just a few of the words that come to mind when I think of the 2015 Amory High School Rocket Team, and these are the teens that should be portrayed in the news.”
The Gilmore Foundation has helped manage donations solicited by Hob Bryan, Sr. from the community to cover the materials needed to build the rockets, and now the teams must raise enough money to go.
The trip isn’t free, however, and the rocket team students are busy trying to raise the $12,000 needed to cover the trip.
There are several sponsorship levels: $500 to $1,000 entitles a corporate logo on rocket, sponsor banner and back of uniforms; $250 to $499 entitles a corporate logo on sponsor banner and back of uniforms; and $100 to $249 entitles a name listing on banner and back of team T-shirts.


Representatives from Aberdeen accepting the Mississippi Association of Partners in Education are, from left, Aberdeen High School JROTC Aerospace Instructor Lt. Col. Jeff Coggin; Aberdeen School District Conservator Mac Curlee; AHS Principal Cloyd Garth, Jr.; Monroe County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Skip Scaggs; Ted Nickerson of Axiall; cadets Jose Gonzales and Cameron Cockerham; P16 Council President Jim Edwards; and MAPE President Dr. Suzanne Bean, who facilitates a parents academy with the Aberdeen School District.

CHOCTAW – In an awards ceremony seemingly geared towards acknowledging community partnerships March 18, Aberdeen High School’s JROTC program accepted the 2015 Partnership Excellence Award at the Mississippi Association of Partners in Education Governor’s Award luncheon at Pearl River Resort.
The program was selected because of a partnership between the school’s partnership with local industry, Axiall, and the Monroe County Chamber of Commerce. Last semester, JROTC cadets aided the chamber in taking video and still shots of prospective industrial sites with their Phantom 2 Vision Plus drone.
Through the Aberdeen School District’s P16 Council, Axiall has developed a Partners in Education relationship with AHS.
The luncheon’s keynote speaker Brett Pawlowski, co-founder of the National Center for College and Career Transitions, referenced life events of R&B superstar Barry White to illustrate analogies of community partnerships and outside influences.
“White grew up in a rough childhood. He heard Elvis on the radio while in jail for serving four years, which changed his life. He had enormous potential and had everything happen because he was at the right place at the right time,” Pawlowski said. “It makes me think of the thousands of children going through rough times. We can’t let that potential go and that’s why partnerships are so important.”
In citing the power of mentoring, Pawlowski told of how White never intended to sing but rather work behind the scenes in the music industry. After recording songs he’d penned to give other artists an idea of how he wanted them to sound, White’s musical mentor talked him into professionally re-recording them for his own and the rest is history.
“To the community and partnership people in the audience, I’m sure partnerships aren’t in your job description, but you know if you don’t step up, these children will never have that opportunity,” Pawlowski said.

by Ray Van Dusen | 6:00 am | March 30, 2015 | Monroe Journal


Aberdeen High School program wins Governor’s Award


Aberdeen High School JROTC Cadet Commander Jose Gonzalez pins a cadet Feb. 11 as part of a promotion ceremony. Nine cadets, which is the most to be promoted at the same time, were pinned through the ceremony that happens after each nine weeks when new grades are released. The JROTC’s excellence has been noticed on campus and in Aberdeen, but a drone partnership between the program and a couple of local entities has caught the attention of a statewide organization and garnered the program a Governor’s Award.

ABERDEEN – A partnership between  Aberdeen High School’s JROTC program, Axiall and the Monroe County Chamber of Commerce has gained statewide notice through the Mississippi Association of Partners in Education’s Governor’s Awards.
The program is the 2015 Partnership Excellence Award recipient thanks to the JROTC’s drone, which has helped take still shots and video for the chamber for available industrial sites.
“During a recent P-16 meeting, Danny Spreitler recognized that the Aberdeen High School partnerships and specifically the drone project with the Air Force JROTC cadets was noteworthy. Danny suggested that we apply for a Mississippi Partners in Education Award. I committed to filling out the application and to sending in the support pictures and write-up,” said Aberdeen School District P-16 Council President Jim Edwards. “The purpose of the P-16 Council is to make the Aberdeen community recognize that this school district is one that deserves involvement from business and community leaders who represent the key stakeholders in the education product.”
Through the efforts of the Aberdeen School District’s P16 Council, Axiall has formed a partnership in education bond with AHS.
According to AHS JROTC Aerospace Instructor Jeff Coggin, the program has been asked to use the drone to capture images as part of the environmental assessment of the Prairie Industrial Site that is part of the implementation of an Environmental Protection Agency Brownfields Grant.
“These students, these cadets are flying this drone and are probably cutting edge for this state if not for the nation,” Coggin said to the P16 Council Feb. 9. “We’re working on a release for [JROTC headquarters] Maxwell Air Force Base, and they are going to send it out to 800 units across the country and overseas. The Bulldogs are barking again.”
Additionally Coggin stated the unit will partner with Mississippi State University’s aerospace rocket team to build a payload.
The awards luncheon will be March 17 in Philadelphia and representatives from Axiall, the chamber, Aberdeen School District and the P-16 Council are expected to attend.
“The write-up shines favorable light on the hard working JROTC cadets, the Monroe County Chamber of Commerce, Axiall Corporation and the new leadership of the Aberdeen School District. I am humbled by the award and am very proud of the Aberdeen School District,” Edwards said.
In P-16 business Feb. 9, ASD Conservator Mac Curlee briefed attendees on the parent academy that launched at the same time as last week’s P-16 meeting.
“It will further engage parents in the community as part of the school. They’re talking about parent academies at each school that can develop a better project to better serve student achievement,” Curlee said.

By Ray Van Dusen | 6:00 am | February 19, 2015 | Monroe Journal


Amory senior named National Merit Finalist

National Merit Semi-Finalist

Amory High School senior Wes Colbert holds his letter informing him that he is a National Merit Scholar semifinalist. Colbert is one of 12 Northeast Mississippi students to make it this far to compete for the prestigious scholarship.

AMORY – Amory High School senior Weston Colbert was just named as a National Merit Finalist according to AHS Principal Ken Byars.

Colbert was recently named one of 17 Northeast Mississippi students as a National Merit Semifinalist, the first since Hob Bryan in 1970.

As a junior, he took the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test in October 2013.

Colbert said he was torn between Ole Miss and going out of state to college. He does plan to apply to Harvard and Yale.

He is interested in either the medical field as a surgeon or teaching college. His particular area of interest are science, physics and research.He served as state president of Family Counseling and Community Leaders of America for two years. He was also a member of the Amory High School Rocket Team. Colbert made a 33 on his ACT, but is going to try again with a goal of 36.

By Emily Tubb | 9:49 am | February 11, 2015 | Monroe Journal


Sights and sounds abound for A Night of Cultural Arts

ABERDEEN – Students from Aberdeen High School’s band and gifted arts programs will entertain the ears and eyes Monday, Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. for A Night of Cultural Arts at the Elkin Theatre.
Eighteen ninth through 12th grade art students will display new works, in addition to some of their best works from previous years, in the lobby to offer a preview for their annual art show in May.
This year, the students have studied abstract linear works by Swiss artist Paul Klee and brushed their own abstract adaptations of faces in watercolor and acrylic for another outside of the box art project.
“This project, based on my observation of the students, is how they’ve grown and want to try new things,” said art teacher Valerie Brahan. “They’re beginning to realize everything around them is art. No matter where they go, they can find inspiration everywhere.”
AHS’ jazz band will perform a variety of classics from the likes of James Brown, Otis Redding, Gershwin and Stevie Wonder, among other selections. The female members of the vocal ensemble will perform Taylor Swift’s catchy “Shake It Off” and the boys will perform Billy Joel’s “Just the Way You Are” before all coming together for their rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature.”
“A lot of the students can relate to the music because so many of them grew up listening to these songs at their grandparents’ house,” said AHS band director Toni Reece.
There will also be a performance featuring a solo by Reece accompanied by a trio of students playing the guitar, bass and drums.
“It’s collaborative learning, which is a big catch phrase in education. Three students, with some coaching, created a fun piece that’s very recognizable,” Reece said implying she didn’t want to give too much away for the performance.

By Ray Van Dusen | 6:00 am | February 5, 2015 | Monroe Journal


Amory and Monroe County School Districts earn prestigious awards


Pictured, from left, are Mississippi School Board Association President Etta Taplin; Monroe County School District Superintendent Scott Cantrell; and Monroe County School Board members Butch Palmer, Linda Bickerstaff, Ann Price and Michael Miller were on hand to receive the Lantern Award.

The Mississippi School Boards Association (MSBA) has awarded the Amory School District the Beacon Award and the Monroe County School District the Lantern Award.
“It’s the highest honor MSBA gives and is based on academic performance,” said ASD Superintendent Tony Cook.
The Beacon, which the district received last year as well, is an award for outstanding student achievement based on student performance from the previous spring on testing requirements in the Mississippi accountability program and recognizes school districts that have an overall grade of ‘A’ and no schools below a ‘C’.
The Monroe County School District was awarded the Lantern Award for the fourth year in a row for maintaining an overall ‘B’ rating.
Amory was one of 18 districts in the state to be awarded the Beacon Award and the MCSD was one of 36 to be awarded the Lantern Award. Board members from both districts attended the MSBA Lighthouse School Leaders Awards Luncheon in Jackson, along with approximately 350 school board members and superintendents from across the state, on Nov. 11.
The MSBA Lighthouse School Leader Awards Program was established by the Mississippi School Boards Association at the beginning of the 2003-04 school year to recognize the unsung efforts of school districts to meet more rigorous state and federal accountability standards.

By Emily Tubb | 6:00 am | December 2, 2014 | Monroe Journal


Health cluster students garner national health care award

Health Cluster

From left, Amory High School Health Occupation instructor Sara Beth Pearson, Golden Living Activity Director Dian Wilemon and resident Tina Gibbs. Pearson’s health cluster students have been chosen as the Group Volunteer of the Year, a national award bestowed by the American Health Care Association.

AMORY – An Amory High School class of health cluster students has been chosen as the Group Volunteer of the Year, a national honor, by the American Health Care Association for their hard work and dedication to the residents of the Golden Living Center of Amory. This marks the first time in more than a decade that Mississippi has won a national award from the AHCA.
The students spent close to 100 hours a month during the 2013–2014 school year providing in-room socialization, Acute Care Unit visits, arts and crafts projects, assistance with restorative exercise programs, decorations for holidays and interviews with residents for Life Stories, a program that helps residents reminisce about their lives.
“They really connected with the residents. The first time I almost had to push them, but to see them at the end of the year and how close they got and how selfless they became…that can’t be taught in the classroom,” said AHS Health Occupation instructor Sara Beth Pearson.
Not all of the residents at Golden Living are elderly and one student collected money to purchase a visual stimulation board for a younger resident, according to Golden Living Activities Director Dian Wilemon. Another student went to the center on Christmas Day to make sure that the residents got a visitor.
“They improved the residents’ quality of life with their youth and spontaneity,” Wilemon said.
The students, nominated by Wilemon, will be recognized at the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living 65th annual convention in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 8.

By Emily Tubb | 6:00 am | August 1, 2014 | Monroe Journal


Amory rocket team places 10th in the nation

Rocket Team 2

Amory Rocket Team, which placed 10th in the nation, received a donation from McDonald’s of Amory to help with their expenses. Pictured, (l-r), Sarah Wibanks of McDonald’s, Hagen Gurley, Wes Colbert, Taylor Allmond, Ben Watson, Megan Greenhill, Cameron Carruth, Mac Shelton, Leslie Parker, and Katie Rost, McDonald’s general manager.

AMORY – The Amory High School Rocket Team comprised of Taylor Allmond, Cameron Carruth, Wes Colbert, Megan Greenhill, Hagen Gurley, Leslie Parker, Mac Shelton and Ben Watson advanced to the national competition in Washington, D.C., where they placed 10th in the nation.
Amory’s team and the Mississippi School for Math and Science were the only two schools to represent the state in the competition, which was May 10 and 11.
According to AP physics instructor and rocket team sponsor Mary Beth Black, this is the fifth year for a rocket team at Amory High School.
“It is so rewarding to watch a fantastic group of students work hard and to see them achieve at such high levels. This group of students is extraordinary. I’m so proud of them,” Black said.
The Team America Rocketry Challenge competition began with 900 teams and 103 were invited to nationals. After the first round, 79 of the teams went home. There were 24 top teams in the final round and Amory Rocket Team came in 10th.
Amory team members each received $3,000 in scholarships and the team received $1,000 to go towards next year’s team.

By Alice Ortiz | 6:30 am | May 21, 2014 | Monroe Journal


Amory High rocket team soars to national competition

Rocket Team 1

Amory High School rocket team members (l-r), Wes Colbert, Taylor Allmond, Hagen Gurley, Lesley Parker, and Ben Watson prepare a rocket for takeoff. Not pictured, Cameron Carruth, Megan Greenhill and Mac Shelton.

AMORY – Members of the Amory High School Rocket Team recently won at state competition and are now one of two schools from Mississippi advancing to the nationals in Washington. D.C. May 10 and 11.
The team’s rocket had to meet Team America Rocket Challenge guidelines of reaching an altitude of 825 feet with a weight of no more than 650 grams, two eggs onboard must have been in perfect condition after landing and the rocket had to deploy two parachutes.
All the guidelines had had to be met in 48 to 50 seconds. Amory’s final score was 34, which ranks the team in the top 100 teams in the nation, beating out 900 other teams.
This year is the fifth year for a rocket team at Amory High School. The team is comprised of Taylor Allmond, Cameron Carruth, Wes Colbert, Megan Greenhill, Hagen Gurley, Lesley Parker, Mac Shelton and Ben Watson.
“I have had the privilege of teaching these students for three years. They are all academically gifted, but they have never been satisfied with what comes so easily for them. They want to know how, why and what if,” said Mary Beth Black, AP physics instructor and rocket team sponsor.
Some of the major achievements of the individual members of the team include an average ACT score of 29, an average Grade Point Average of 3.94 and there are eight National Honor Society winners on the team. Five team members have a 4.0 GPA and none of them have discipline referrals.

By Alice Ortiz | 6:30 am | April 28, 2014 | Monroe Journal