The Delta Health Alliance

MSU announces new Mississippi Education Policy Fellows

Posted on: November 10, 2017
New Mississippi Education Policy Fellows held their first meeting earlier this month at the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson. (Photo by Kristen Dechert)


Eighteen teachers and administrators are new selections for the Mississippi Education Policy Fellowship Program.

One of 13 in the U.S., the Magnolia State organization is a collaboration among Mississippi State University’s John C. Stennis Institute of Government and Community Development, Research and Curriculum Unit and Office of Research and Economic Development.

Beginning this month, the Mississippi Fellows cohort is convening monthly through May, holding their first meeting at the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson. They are discussing state and national education policies, along with ways to successfully advocate on behalf of Mississippi students and schools.

“As a child of Mississippi, I always look for opportunities to make myself a better policy leader for my state,” said Caleb Herod, one of the new Fellows.

Extended learning project manager with the Stoneville-based Delta Health Alliance, Herod said the program provides “the opportunity to learn from great leaders and meet colleagues who will help me create a better educational community for all of Mississippi’s citizens.”

Next March, he and other Fellows travel to Washington, D.C., where they and program peers from around the country will meet with their respective elected representatives, as well as leaders of the national Institute for Educational Leadership.

Established more than a half-century ago, the institute is a non-profit organization devoted to “helping policymakers, administrators and practitioners at all levels bridge bureaucratic silos and undo gridlock to improve outcomes for all young people and their families.” For more, visit

“We are excited about the diverse backgrounds and experiences this year’s Fellows bring to the table and look forward to working with them on policy agendas,” said Stennis Institute consultant Tyson Elbert.

With Devon Brenner and Kristen Dechert, Elbert is one of three coordinators of the Mississippi Fellows cohort. Brenner is an MSU College of Education professor also serving as special assistant to the vice president for research and economic development; Dechert is a project manager at the RCU.

In addition to Herod, other 2017-18 Mississippi Fellows include (by institution or office):

—Benton County Schools, Ashland: principal Sharon Albert and Elynda Finley, administrative assistant and librarian.

—Cleveland School District: teacher Mary Katherine Honeycutt, who also is a graduate fellow with Delta State University, and principal Cody Shumaker.

—Gulfport School District: principal John Barnett.

—Hinds Community College–Utica Campus: Yolanda Houston, teacher education preparation director.

—Kemper County School District, DeKalb: principal Kathi Wilson.

—Mississippi Community College Board, Jackson: Micca Knox, Early Childhood Academy director.

—MSU-Meridian: assistant professor Jeffrey Leffler, graduate studies director.

—MSU-Starkville: Brad Skelton, an RCU project manager.

—Pass Christian School District: Meridith Bang, chief academic officer.

—Pearl River County School District, Carriere: principal Stacy Baudoin.

—Rankin County School District, Brandon: assistant principal Melanie Wells.

—Tallahatchie River Foundation, Charleston: Elizabeth Harris, engagement and communications director.

—Teach for America–Mississippi, Oxford: Stephanie Parkinson, regional designer.

—University of Mississippi, Oxford: professor RoSusan Bartee, and associate professor and chair Susan McClelland, both in the School of Education.

For more about the Mississippi EPFP, contact Dechert at or 662-325-2510.

MSU is the state’s leading university, available online at


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