Mississippi Learning Institute (MLI)
Sally McDonnell Barksdale Educational Resource Center
Jackson State University
1400 John R Lynch St.
Jackson, MS 39217
What is the Mississippi Learning Institute collaborative?
The Mississippi Learning Institute (MLI) is the state’s only nationally-recognized public school-university partnership. The ultimate purpose of the collaborative is to improve reading and literacy instruction and outcomes by addressing teaching and learning on two levels: 1) at Jackson State university (JSU) within the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) among faculty and the pre-service teachers who are their students and 2) in the Jackson Public School (JPS) district, among teachers and pupils in grades preK-12.
This P-20 (preschool through graduate school) initiative has implemented a process for developing closer ties between the university and the school system––both of which recognize major responsibility in the formal teaching and learning process for the Jackson, Mississippi community. The Mississippi State Department of Education (MDE), America Reads Mississippi (ARM) AmeriCorps Program and the Barksdale Reading Institute (BRI), a major funder of MLI, participate in MLI as partners with broad concerns about education outcomes and policy statewide.
The two major vehicles of the MLI partnership are the Executive Committee and the Collaborative Growth Team. The Executive Committee is responsible for defining the Institute’s mission and for providing overall leadership and strategic direction to the organization. It actively sets policy and ensures that the Institute has adequate resources to carry out its mission.
The Executive Committee is also responsible for providing oversight and direction to the Executive Director, Nikisha G. Ware. Ware provides leadership for the direction, development and implementation of the initiative and delivers key operational services to ensure the achievement of the Institute’s strategic goals and mission. To this end, she provides programmatic and fiscal management to the MLI staff.
While the Executive Committee is the main governing body of the initiative, the Collaborative Growth Team handles the details of the instructional improvement work involving the JSU College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) and Mississippi Learning Academy (MLA) schools. The Collaborative Growth Team consists of the JPS principals of MLA schools, the Dean of CEHD, the Associate Superintendent of JPS, and JSU faculty who serve as research partners giving support to teachers and conducting studies in MLA schools.
Why and how the effort was begun?
In 2001, MLI set an ambitious agenda to serve as a national literacy model to rejuvenate the conventional public school system. They knew that giving students a solid background in reading and literacy would guarantee exceptional proficiencies in math and science, too.
They developed a model with a twofold process - first, to refurbish JSU’s teacher-training curriculum, particularly in the areas of reading and early childhood education. Second, to partner with five schools—George Elementary, Isable Elementary, Poindexter Elementary, Blackburn Middle, and Jim Hill High Schools—to establish reading based academy schools. The academy schools, all within one mile of JSU, serve as professional development laboratories for pre-service teachers who will ultimately be placed in one of its classrooms.
This new model, guided by the revitalized curriculum in the CEHD and demonstrated through the five academy schools, support growth and intellectual development among students and educators at all levels.
How is the Mississippi Learning Institute funded?
MLI is funded by the U.S. Department of Education and the Barksdale Reading Institute. Funds are used to provide full-time literacy coaches; professional development; incentives and stipends for MLA teachers, literacy coaches and principals; tuition assistance for MLA teachers and principals; support for research and publications development; and instructional supplies and materials.
How do I get involved?
Contact Nikisha G. Ware, Executive Director
How do we cause change?
For more information visit the Mississippi Learning Institute web site.