JACKSON ― For Mississippians who are called to make a difference in their communities, there’s no better time to consider being a teacher.
That’s the message of the Unleash Possible campaign led by Mississippi Association of School Superintendents. As Mississippi contends with a teacher shortage that’s reaching crisis proportions in many of the state’s school districts, MASS is appealing to service-minded professionals to consider careers in education.
“When we think of careers that make a lasting impact on society, few can compete with teaching,” said Dr. Phillip Burchfield, executive director of MASS. “Teachers are empowered to shape futures by giving students the knowledge and tools to establish successful lives and livelihoods. We want to shine a light on Mississippi’s educators and show the many ways they contribute to stronger communities, thriving economies and a brighter future for our state.”
Mobilizing it membership, MASS plans to take the Unleash Possible campaign directly to high school and college students throughout Mississippi via conversations that focus on the benefits and opportunities of teaching careers. Unleash Possible also involves a comprehensive social media campaign that spotlights success stories of current and retired teachers who are champions of education in their communities.
MASS also recently launched the Unleash Possible video series that features educators from around the state who talk about their passion for teaching. The first in the series is TaNaya Bluitt, a fifth-grade teacher at Overstreet Elementary in Starkville, who is building leadership skills in her students while preparing them to advance to middle school.
“Each day as a fifth-grade teacher, you know you’re going to experience something amazing,” Bluitt said. “It’s my job to find things that connect with [my students], find resources that will help them, and work diligently with them to let them know that even if they’re struggling, they’re not struggling alone.”
As Unleash Possible spreads statewide, MASS will continue working with state leaders to develop more robust recruiting and hiring practices for Mississippi’s public schools as well as better pay, stronger certification standards and other incentives to build and strengthen Mississippi’s teacher workforce.
Unleash Possible is part of the broader Advance Mississippi initiative launched by MASS during its 2019 Winter Conference in Jackson. With the announcement, MASS also marked its 50th anniversary as the state’s leading advocate for quality public education.
Since its founding in 1969, MASS has grown into a nationally recognized coalition that provides state-of-the-art training and mentoring programs for educators across the state while advocating year-round for improved public schools.
“The teacher shortage won’t correct itself — it’s time for Mississippi to take action, and MASS is prepared to lead,” Dr. Burchfield said. “When it’s time for students to choose a career path, we want them to consider the lifelong impact they can make as teachers and share the success stories of educators throughout Mississippi who are making a positive difference every day.
“Mississippians deserve schools that provide a world-class education and prepare students for successful futures,” he said. “We can do that by recruiting more high-quality educators who are incentivized to teach in Mississippi.”