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Forest Hill School, Alignment Jackson's School of the Month (March)


For the month of March, Alignment Jackson has chosen to highlight Forest Hill High School as the School of the Month!  Sitting on  an impressive 47 acres, Forest Hill High has transformed from a community school house in the 1800s to a modern academic and athletic complex. Forest Hill’s mission is to enable all students to become competent, self-directed, life-long learners so they can achieve their highest potential in today’s society. The staff and faculty feel very strongly about providing the students with a high-quality education as well as depositing positive affirmations in the minds of their students. Their school motto, Exhibiting Nothing Less than the Best, communicates an expectation of excellence to everyone. Forest Hill’s Academies include an Education and Law Academy as well as a Health and Human Services Academy. Students in the Health-Related Academy are now certified Health Advocates through a partnership with University of Mississippi Medical Center and the Health Academy has also been recently adopted by McColumn Physical Therapy.  The Freshman Academy is a source of pride for Forest Hill. In preparation for the next academic years to come, Forest Hill pays close attention to their 9th graders. When asked what he liked about his 9th grade Academy experience, Leo McIntyre III said, “Mr. Ellis makes sure everyone learns in the most comfortable environment. The counselors and Academy coaches will consider changing your schedule to improve your success in a specific class.” To address the health of the “whole child”, Forest Hill always looks for opportunities to infuse real-world lessons into the school’s day-to-day. Earlier this school year, Forest Hill’s Freshman Academy piloted the first Teens Against Domestic Violence Campaign in partnership with the MS Coalition of Domestic Violence; engaging in curriculum studies, announcing daily teen violence tips during morning announcements, and by wearing orange on Nation Teens against Violence Day. 

In addition to Academies, Forest Hill’s commitment to preparing its young scholars for college and career compelled administration to invite the Jobs for Mississippi Graduates program into the school. The main objective of JMG is to help students learn employable skills that will better prepare them to enter the workforce, college, or technical school after they graduate high school. Other programs at FHHS include an award winning JROTC and their Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS) program that emphasizes the recognition of positive staff and student behavior, positive decision-making, and the social competencies and academic achievements of students. In keeping with the vision of well-rounded students, Forest Hill boasts a plethora of clubs so that every student can explore their interests and get involved. Themes of these organizations include Art, Mathematics, Foreign Language, Drama and Journalism, Science and Robotics, and Coding. The students of Forest Hill High School are fortunate to be in a learning environment that values diversity, high expectations, and collaboration. FHHS truly Fosters Pride, teaches students to Heed to Authority, to Help One Another, and Supports Self Respect. Congratulations Forest Hill High School! Keep up the good work. 



Alignment Jackson has chosen to highlight Lanier High School for the month of February! Lanier High School is one of seven high schools in the Jackson Public School District. The school’s mission is to provide their students with a quality education that will allow them to become articulate in spoken word, masterful in writing, and analytical in thought to function as self-sufficient, supporting adults. With that mission in mind, Lanier has taken on the Academy model in order to better prepare their students for college and career. The high school has three career Academies: Healthcare ad Laboratory Diagnostics, Business and Global Marketing, and Engineering and Innovation. While each career Academy is important in educating the students in topics/skills such as entrepreneurship, graphic design, business law, and robotics, Lanier’s Healthcare Academy is particularly impressive. The University of Mississippi Medical Center has partnered with the school to provide support, resources, and invaluable guidance to the faculty, staff, and students. Scholars in the Healthcare Academy are learning skills pertaining to fields like Patient Care Services, Forensics, and Healthcare Technology. In the very near future, it is possible that students in this Academy could receive CNA training and be awarded various health related certifications before graduating high school. Lanier takes pride in its ability to produce the next generation of healthcare professionals and to prove it, they require that 100% of their freshmen take a Biology elective. Not Pre Biology, but Biology I. They believe that given the chance, their students will rise to the challenge of a highly analytical, science, and math based course of study. Focusing on health is not just an academic goal of Lanier but also a real-world concern they have for their students. The Lanier High Teen Wellness Clinic was established in 2015 and helps to coordinate youth-centered healthcare for teens during school hours. This innovative healthcare delivery model allows teens access to care without the disruption of their instructional time and their parents work schedules. During the summer months, many of Lanier’s students develop more skills that will prepare them for college and career by participating in programs such as E3. The E3(Engage, Enlighten, Employ) Program is facilitated by Parents for Public Schools of Jackson and funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and with support from over 40 community partners. It is clear that the administration, staff, parents, and community want to see the students of Lanier succeed.

Lanier High School’s future goals include strengthening their Robotics Team, providing more training and instructional staff to better integrate curriculum and instruction, and to solidify and strengthen relationships like the one they have with UMMC. Community partners involved in the school include Jackson Public Schools, Alignment Jackson, United Way of the Capital Area, Operation Shoestring, Envision Eye Care, Women’s Foundation of Mississippi, Mississippi State Department of Adolescent Health, Mississippi State Department of Family Planning, and United Health Care. If anyone, private or public sector, would like to contribute to the wonderful work going on at Lanier High School and in any of its Academies, please call their offices (601-960-5369), visit their website http://www.jackson.k12.ms.us/lanier, or email their administration. 

Letter from our Executive Director




Let me be the first to thank you for all of your encouragement and support of our previous work and as the Alignment Jackson team refocuses on our 2017 goals. Don’t misunderstand me. Alignment Jackson continues to work to improve the lives of Jackson’s young scholars by supporting Jackson Public Schools in their goals of producing healthy and academically successful students. We do this by facilitating city-wide partnerships with a variety of businesses and community partners. The latter is where we plan to focus our efforts during the first half of the year. Bringing together people and resources is where we feel we will best effect change in our community.

The Alignment Jackson staff has been so energized by the support we have received, particularly while planning and executing the 2016 Career Exploration Fair. So many entities, private and public, joined us in creating a truly unique and impactful experience for the freshman of Jackson Public Schools. Seeing their faces and hearing how positively they were influenced, by the event, reassured me that there is a desire for more community/school district engagement.

I personally plan to reach out to as many community partners and businesses as I can and my staff shares in my passion for seeking those who want to invest their resources into the talented young students of our capital city. However, we know we will not have to do it alone. I charge you as our supporters to have your friend and/or family members who own local businesses to give us a call. Tell your colleagues about us and the wonderful work we are doing to enhance the lives of Jackson’s future workforce. Encourage Others to Engage.

Thank You again for your ongoing support.


Nikki K. McCelleis

Executive Director of Alignment Jackson


Staffer’s Personal Reflection of the 2016 Career Expo.




For weeks and weeks before November 16th, I and the rest of the Alignment Jackson team worked tirelessly to plan and execute the Career Exploration Fair. We called, emailed, and campaigned. We scheduled, strategized, and re-strategized up until the very night before. The morning of, I awoke two full hours before my alarm usually sounds with a double espresso-like energy. As I brushed my teeth and ironed my clothes, I went over the schedule in my head. While applying my make-up, I practiced my welcoming smile in the mirror and rehearsed my ‘buzz’ words for the event. “Interactive… Informative… Impactful… over 100 exhibitors… over 2000 students.” On the way to the Jackson Convention Complex, I continued this line of thinking as if it was my mantra. “100 exhibitors…. 2000 students.”

By the time I had finished setting up the registration table and assigning various jobs to our volunteers, the first bus load of students had pulled into the breezeway in front of the Convention Complex and were lining up to enter. “….2000 students.” We opened the doors for them and in they poured. The expressions on their faces ranged from sleepy to curious to excited and were accompanied by the echo of hundreds of shuffling feet. The volunteers and I handed each student an event bag. They continued to file inside and we hurried to greet each child, handing out bags is quick succession. As we finished one group of students, another would enter... bus after bus. It continued like that until all I could see were blurs of figures in colorful t-shirts.

It was only until my feet began to scream at me that I decided to take a short break. Instead of finding a soft place to sit, I decided to ignore my aching feet and enter the Exhibitor Hall. I was struck with how colorful and loud the scene before me was. In every direction was a conversation, a demonstration, or a game. I walked further inside and halfway through I began to give myself a pat on the back. “We did it! It all came together.” And then I heard it…

“I feel like committing a crime, bro.” I whirled around and nearly ran into the source of the young male voice I had just heard. The figure before me was two heads taller than me and had the stocky build of linebacker. Glancing at me, he continued to laugh with his friend standing next to him. I stood there for a second, cemented to floor, and watched them walk off into a sea of other students. Looking back on it now, I wasn’t just shocked at the laissez-faire way that the student had made such a statement. I was offended. I was furious! In the midst of all of these fun activities and potential networking opportunities, how could he have said that? Even in jest? Did he not know of all the work that was put into this event? I walked out of the Exhibitor Hall in a huff, just in time to greet the next group of students. So I plastered on the welcoming smile I had practiced and continued my earlier activity.

Because the student’s words still rang in my head, I began to repeat my buzz words again. “Interactive… Informative… Impactful. 100 exhibitors… 2000 students.” After a while, I was no longer upset and began to enjoy the experience again. So much so that on another break, I walked into the Exhibitor Hall filled with pride once again. I stopped at various booths. I was impressed with how well some students were doing in a game testing their financial literacy and laughed at how clumsily some students were navigating an obstacle course with a leaf blower. I high-fived a young female student who had done a great job as a news anchor and looked on in confusion as a group of students controlled a robot with some very sophisticated equipment. Just as I began to pass the Health Sciences booths, I saw the young man again. I moved closer and was struck with what I saw him doing. He was cradling a baby. The baby wasn’t real, a medical dummy used to teach people how to change diapers and perform CPR, but he held it as if it were. He rocked the silent baby as if it were crying and even made soothing noises. His friend, always by his side, laughed at him. The student handed the baby back to the exhibitor, turned to his friend and said something that made his friend stop laughing. I moved a bit closer and pretended to look for something as I eavesdropped on their conversation. Before they moved on, I heard, “Man, I’m good with babies.” As they moved away, I only heard bits of their conversation over all the ambient noise. “… little sister…. one day… can… doctor.”

I can’t be sure what he really said but in that moment, I began to imagine the young man’s life and how he might be in the future. Did he take care of his younger sister? Did he have a gift with children? Had he ever really committed a crime? Would he become a doctor one day… a pediatrician? Did he believe he could?

For the rest of the day, I glowed. The 2000 students I saw that day were not faceless figures in a crowd but individuals who each had something to gain from their experience at the 2016 Career Exploration Fair.  Each student had stories and gifts of their own. If we piqued the interest of just one kid, the event was a success.

I hope the young man who held the practice baby becomes whatever he wants to be. I hope his experience at the Career Exploration Fair sticks with him.

Mine will.