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Starting Small to Make a Difference in Mississippi

Engaging students in active use doesn’t require an elaborate technological ecosystem. Pascagoula High School (PHS) is a suburban, Title 1 school on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi with a student population of around 1,120, about 70% Black or Hispanic. Educator Jami Sheets teaches a leadership class at PHS, which allows students to learn different leadership skills and put those skills into action on campus and in the community. The class’s mission is to ensure all PHS students feel seen and heard. Sheets and her students identified the need to keep all PHS students “in the know” about school activities. During the 2022-23 school year – using only a tablet computer, a free graphic design platform, and a freely available streaming platform – Sheets’ leadership class launched the Pascagoula News Network (PNN), a student-led weekly newscast. Students are responsible for the newscast, which includes developing a weekly content outline and writing, recording, and editing each segment under the guidance of Sheets.  

The goal of the PNN is to highlight the entire student body, and it has quickly grown in popularity, with additional students inquiring as to how they can be involved in the project. As a result of this unintentional pilot of active technology use, Pascagoula will include a broadcast journalism class during the district’s first week-long intersession of the 2023-24 school year.  

The experience demonstrates that educators can start with a small pilot, use existing technology tools, and iterate on success. After a successful start, Sheets, in collaboration with the library staff, applied for and received an Ingalls Shipbuilding STEM grant to get additional technology tools to support the broadcast.