Businesses here enjoy a deep pool of talent fueled by top-notch public and private schools, along with great programs.
Oxford/Lafayette County’s economy is running strong, thanks to its thriving business community and pool of educated talent.
Helping stock this pool is an impressive roster of highly regarded public and private schools in Oxford and Lafayette County. All of these options not only help the business community, but they allow families to choose the curriculum and services that best meet the needs of their children and their futures.
“Having an educated and qualified workforce is of great importance to the economic development of the Oxford-Lafayette County community and North Mississippi as a whole,” says Heather Lenard, public information officer for the Oxford School District. “Ensuring Oxford School District students have those attributes provides our community with young people who are ready to successfully engage in society and the world of college and work.”
Preparing for College Early
In Oxford, all sixth graders take the College, Career and Life course. The district’s career and technical education course offerings begin at Oxford Middle School in seventh grade. In the eighth grade, students can enroll in the Exploring Pathways program, which introduces them to multiple careers.
Getting Ready for the Future
Planning each student’s future happens early on in Oxford. According to Lenard, schools within the Oxford District begin having college-and career-level discussions with students in fifth grade through its AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program. Students take career-interest surveys and learn about different career pathways.
The district offers 24 hours of on-campus dual credit along with 19 advanced placement courses and 11 career and technical education pathways. An ACT prep course is required for all 11th graders.
“Through our Middle College program, students can earn an associate degree from Northwest Community College before graduating high school,” Lenard says.
Learning the Skills to Succeed
The Lafayette County School District plays an equally vital role in the region’s workforce development efforts. Like Oxford, Lafayette County schools boast high graduation rates and low student-teacher ratios with above average college-readiness scores.
“The overall vision for our district is to make sure when kids come through our school, when they walk across the stage, if they choose to go to college, then we want to prepare them for that,” says Jay Foster, district superintendent. “But if not, we want to give them the skills and the training and provide the avenues necessary for them to be able to stay in our community.”
At the Oxford-Lafayette School of Applied Technology, students can train in a wide range of in-demand fields. Foster says the district works with local businesses to ensure students are learning the skills necessary to be successful in the workplace.
“We also partner with businesses to offer our special needs students hands-on learning opportunities through vocational rehabilitation services. For example, some of our special needs students have an opportunity to work in the hospital in a variety of roles — and this experience could translate into a job in the future for them,” Foster says.
Private Schools and Japanese Education
In addition to these districts, the region also offers students numerous private and charter schools and specialized education programs, such as Regents School of Oxford, Magnolia Montessori School and the North Mississippi Japanese Supplementary School (NMJSS).
A collaboration between The University of Mississippi’s U.S. Japan Partnership Program and several Japan-based employers, NMJSS allows students to maintain their culture, stay fluent in their native language and stay on par with their peers in Japan. Students attend local schools during the week and study at NMJSS on Saturdays.
“The primary goals of the Japanese Supplementary School are to help Japanese families and students settle in North Mississippi and provide them an opportunity to maintain their education and culture,” says Shinobu Sullivan, associate director of the U.S. Japan Partnership Program at Ole Miss.