MSU hosts high school students preparing for AP classes


Mississippi State is helping nearly 50 high school students from 13 rural schools around the state as they prepare to take an Advanced Placement Physics course this coming fall.

The summer program is part of an AP Access Pilot Program conducted by the Global Teaching Project and the Mississippi Public School Consortium for Educational Access. The initiative seeks to increase student enrollment in advanced coursework, particularly in science and mathematics, which correlate strongly with college and career success. This is the program’s third year and the third time MSU has hosted the intensive summer AP Physics preparatory academy.

“We are proud that MSU can provide this unique camp for high achieving students from across the state,” said Devon Brenner, MSU special assistant to the vice president and a professor of curriculum, instruction and special education.

“The experiences these students have on the MSU campus prepare them for AP Physics and, at the same time, they help the students imagine life as a college student and the careers they can have after graduation,” Brenner said.

On campus now through June 19, students are working with faculty and tutors in an immersive math and science learning environment to develop study skills and fundamentals to succeed. Once they begin the academic year in their respective schools, they will take AP Physics taught in a “blended” format.

In-class teachers at participating schools will implement lesson plans prepared by experienced AP educators. Renowned Yale physicist Meg Urry serves as lead instructor, teaching students directly through asynchronous video. They also are receiving tutoring and mentorship through regular videoconferences with college STEM majors at prominent universities around the country, including Yale, the University of Virginia, MIT and Clemson. A supplemental winter program is held on the campuses of Millsaps College and Jackson State University, and students prepare further for the AP exam through a residential program at the University of Mississippi during the spring semester.

The summer camp is led by supervisory teachers Anna Creekmore of Houston High School and Dane Peagler of Starkville High School. Both MSU alumni, they also are available to help educators at participating schools throughout the year. Lizzie Brandon, a former SHS teacher who will teach science this year in Houston, is the summer program director and coordinator.

Brenner said these educators “do an amazing job providing students with engaging learning experiences in the classroom and on field trips across campus and in the community that demonstrate the importance and power of mathematics and physics.”

The AP Access Pilot Program has helped increase the number of public schools in Mississippi offering AP physics, and the Global Teaching Project plans to offer an additional AP Computer Science Principles course. There is no charge to students, schools or districts to take part in the program, which is made possible by private donors, including the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, Chisholm Foundation, Phil Hardin Foundation, and philanthropist Don Barrett of Lexington, among others.

According to nationally recognized pre- and post-program assessments utilized by the American Association of Physics Teachers, students who attended the 2018 residential AP Physics preparatory program achieved dramatic gains in substantive understanding of course content.

Students in the free summer program at MSU are selected by participating school districts and identified by their schools as having the aptitude and work ethic needed to succeed in the advanced placement course.

Participating schools this year include Aberdeen High School; Clarkdale High School; Coahoma Early College High School; Holmes County Central High School; Houston High School; Humphreys County High School; Lake High School (Scott County School District); Madison S. Palmer High School (Quitman County School District); North Pontotoc High School; Northeast Lauderdale High School; Northside High School (North Bolivar Consolidated School District); Philadelphia High School; and Scott Central High School.