By Ashley Conroy
JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Mississippi has one of the highest high school drop out rates in nation, and statewide agencies and organizations are trying to change the status quo.
On Thursday, the Mississippi Association of Partners in Education held their 25th annual Governor's Awards.
Former Governor Ronnie Musgrove shook hands with and congratulated winners on their efforts.
"I tell people all the time the best economic engine in your community is your school house," said the former Governor.
This year's theme was "Weathering Tough Times Through Strong Partnerships" as several agencies, were recognized for their efforts to try to improve education in Mississippi.
Darlene Carter, founder of Moss Point Visionary Circle on the Gulf Coast was awarded for non-profit efforts in helping students at schools affected by Katrina get focused.
"It was kind of getting out of control the kids didn't have anything to do. We started a mentor program, we started a character education program, we gave them talent shows to compete in."
Entergy, Inc. was another winning agency that was awarded for their efforts in helping Wingfield High School in Jackson.
"Last year we just realized, 'hey we need to kick it up a notch.' We need to get more involved with the students, get more of our employees involved in the adopt a school partnerships," said Entergy Spokesperson Liz Brister.
Entergy works with fifteen different schools throughout the state. Brister thinks that jobs in the energy business will be booming in the future. A reason, she says, to help students get prepared now.
"Teacher's there that have prepared special science, and math, and engineering classes, helping the students take more advance classes."
Keynote Speaker Beto Gonzalez is the Superintendent of Mercedes Independent School District in Texas. He shared his experience growing up from a migrant family where he says his teachers were his inspiration.
Gonzalez came to Mississippi to share his vision of why partnering agencies are critical for students in education.
"It's when we tend to just leave education up to the school. That we don't get a chance that we don't get a chance to really develop the entire child."
As for former Governor Musgrove, he hopes everyone in Mississippi can put priorities back on education.
"I want you to know that opportunity to me is spelled out, and made meaning in people's lives at the school house."
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