#387. Math League

Posted on | The Agurban
Math League
It has been very gratifying to me to have gotten a chance to travel around the USA, delivering a message of the great potential for rural America.  My hope is that some of the seeds that we planted with those talks will bear fruit long into the future.  Here is one example that I’m proud to share with you.
 But, first I want to digress just a bit.  Prior to the Jones County, MS event discussed below we had a great dinner with some of the leaders from the community.  At it I learned from the Sanderson Farms CEO, a publically owned major poultry producer headquartered in the county, that the top selling part per pound on a chicken is……THEIR FEET!  It is a part that used to be discarded but is now exported to China where it is a delicacy.  The second most valuable part is the wings, because of Buffalo Wings.  He jokingly told me, “They are both so valuable that we’re now trying to breed chickens with four feet and four wings!”
Awwwwww, the things you learn on the road!

Now for the real story.
Dear Jack, 
It was in 2008 that the Jones County Economic Development Authority held a Strategic Planning event which in the end identified Problems with local Public Education as the #1 impediment to improving the regional economy. For the first time, the leadership within development community was willing to admit that solving the many problems facing small town Mississippi, which included but was not limited to, high rate of poverty, teen pregnancy, and school dropouts and few high paying jobs, could be directly linked to poorly performing public schools.  Later that year an Education Summit was organized which had a purpose of informing the community and revealing how improved public schools can change the lives of the people here for the better.  You were gracious to come to Jones County to speak at the Summit, and four years later it was gratifying that at the MEC Annual Luncheon in Jackson last month you referenced your participation in the Summit.
Today, that event has spawned a partnership between the business community and Jones County Junior College.  The purpose of the partnership is to try to change our culture.  This movement is now in its third year, and the idea is being embraced by the corporate world, as well as regional high schools.

The plan was to identify something that works perfectly in every public school in the area.  What is some portion of the school year that has the right facilities, plenty of funding, high popularity with students, lots of community involvement, leadership with a purpose, and demand for media coverage? Likely you have guessed it already.  This something is supreme in every school of any size in the South.  Football is KING.

On the heels of a 3 year success in a one day math competition between 22 high schools in the region and funded by business interests, a Math League.  It is created on the model of a high school football season. In this League there will be 6 weekly, face to face, competitions between division rivals.  A high school Math Teacher, renamed Coach, will recruit a team from 9th to 12th Graders.  Each week for 6 weeks, the team members supported by their Math Coaches will face off with another team under the watch of “umpires” from the Jr. College math department.   Online, class room facilities and formats from JCJC make it all possible. At the end of the season division winners are announced.   They get births in the Championship matches to take place on the college campus in late fall.   “A.C.T.” type math problems are used.  The whole key is practice, which takes place with all team members before the matches, just like in football.  Another factor is publicity.  Our funding is to provide for full newspaper and TV coverage of the results. 

We hope in the end, mothers and dads will ask, “Why did our Johnny’s team lose again?  We want a winning team.”  If a Culture of “winning academics” can be molded, we know we will have won.

With some funds provided by Sanderson Farms, our wonderful chicken production company here, I was able to produce a video that tells the story.  I am proud of how it turned out.  www.youtube.com/jcjcmathbowl

Thank you for helping start the ball rolling back in 2008.

Chris Wilson, Realtor
First Choice, PLLC
Laurel, MS

It is wonderful to learn that, through my participation, a positive new initiative has begun. Congratulations to the Math League participants!