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Dr. Virgil Belue
Dr. Virgil Belue Receives Inaugural Education Heroes Award on Feb. 27
Former Clinton Public School District Superintendent honored during Governor’s Awards Luncheon at Jackson Hilton
JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI - Feb. 9, 2018 - Mississippi Association of Partners in Education presented the first Education Heroes Award to public education champion Dr. Virgil Belue during the 16th annual Governor’s Awards luncheon on Tuesday, Feb. 27 at the Jackson Hilton.
The luncheon was part of activities planned for the Mississippi Education Partnership Conference, which MAPE presented in partnership with Program of Research and Evaluation for Public Schools (PREPS), Inc.
“Dr. Belue devoted most of his life to improving and promoting public education in Mississippi,” said Maggie Stevenson, MAPE president. “Throughout his career, he also recognized the importance of working with communities to strengthen public education, which is integral to MAPE’s mission. We are honored to present the first Education Heroes Award to Dr. Belue, whose career in public education remains an inspiring example of leadership, courage and commitment.”
Dr. Belue served as the first superintendent of the Clinton Public School District from 1970 to 1992. Under his leadership, the district grew from three schools to seven schools and a vocational center while emerging as one of Mississippi’s top school districts. In 2016 and 2017, Clinton schools and Dr. Belue made national headlines when the “The Huffington Post” and "The Atlantic" published articles about the innovative approaches he took to create a community school system ("How One Mississippi School District Made Integration Work" and "Restoring the Promise of Public Education").
While serving as superintendent, Dr. Belue was an active member of several professional organizations and served a term as president of the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents. In 2013, Dr. Belue was honored by the Mississippi Legislature for his 60 years of public service and his retirement from the Board of Trustees of the Public Employees’ Retirement System of Mississippi, for which he served as trustee for 18 years.
Before his work in Clinton, he served in the U.S. Air Force, taught elementary school in the Tishomingo County School District, taught English and social studies in the Pontotoc County School District, and taught social studies in the Tupelo Public School District, where he also worked as a counselor and director of instruction. In addition, Dr. Belue taught undergraduate and graduate classes for Mississippi State University and Mississippi College.
In 1986 Dr. Belue received the “Outstanding Citizen” award from the Clinton Chamber of Commerce for his leadership of the school system and his service to local and statewide professional organizations.
Dr. Belue currently serves in several organizations, including the Mississippi Retired Personnel Employees’ Association, Retired Education Personnel of Mississippi, Clinton Association of Retired Educators and Clinton Chamber of Commerce. He is an active member of First Baptist Church in Clinton, where he has served as deacon.
A graduate of Holcut High School in Tishomingo County, Dr. Belue earned an associate of arts degree from Northeast Mississippi Junior College and bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in education from Mississippi State University. He also did graduate work in guidance and counseling at the University of Mississippi and Mississippi College.
In addition to presenting Dr. Belue’s award on Feb. 27, MAPE awarded 18 school-community partnership programs that have produced outstanding results for students in K-12 public schools throughout Mississippi. .
1984-2014: Celebrating 30 Years of Partnership Success
Liz Hudson and John Washington in 1998
In 2014, MAPE celebrated its 30th anniversary as Mississippi’s leading advocacy organization for school-community partnerships. Throughout the year, we reflected on the many activities and successes that sustained MAPE through three decades of growth, along with the people who played instrumental roles in MAPE’s formation. At the top of the list is founding director Liz Hudson, whose leadership and commitment for more than two decades continues to inspire MAPE and its work in school districts and communities. Liz also conceived of and was the driving force behind the creation of the Governor’s Awards. Liz retired from Jackson Public Schools as partnership coordinator and serves as MAPE’s emeritus board member.
School partnerships: 'We're all in this together'
By Liz Hudson
From the beginning, it took the collective wisdom and courageous commitment of a wonderfully wide variety of leaders to make MAPE happen.
One of those early leaders was Trustmark’s Beth Fisher, who has served on MAPE’s board since its inception. When the Jackson Public School District reported in 1978 that their new Adopt-A-School program had improved morale and increased resources aiding academic improvement, other districts and chambers of commerce began to request information on how to duplicate that effort. Beth and fellow information ambassadors would accept invitations from across the state to share their experiences and to encourage others to “go and do likewise.”
Within two years of these presentations, it became obvious that the time was right to offer a statewide gathering of those who wanted to share their stories and to learn more from others who might offer additional challenges.
John Washington, coordinator for Allstate, which was Jackson’s first business adopter, had helped to create the Memphis Adopt-ASchool Program based on Allstate’s partnership with Provine High School. A few years later, he became president of National Association of Partners in Education. John had the vision, energy and ability to motivate us to host a statewide gathering of those currently or potentially interested in offering Adopt-A-School’s many benefits to schools and their communities.
Thank goodness we listened to him. As a result, there are now countless numbers of students who have been motivated to do great things, teachers who have been supported in ways that kept them feeling valued, and communities with a greater sense of “we’re all in this together.”
Building that sense of community ownership in the future of our children continues to be a challenge.
The third name that must be included in any story about MAPE is Linda Ross Aldy. Linda and her abundantly talented and dedicated board members have created exciting new venues for showing appreciation for the irreplaceable role of Mississippi’s public education system and for those who support it.
While not ignoring the continuing need for opportunities to share partnership ideas that work, a new awareness of the organization has been developed via a number of new alliances and the establishment of the Winter-Reed Award to spotlight individuals who have bravely championed education in Mississippi.
May their efforts continue reminding us of the words spoken by former Gov. William Winter: “The road out of poverty runs by the school house.”
From the PARTNERS newsletter, Winter 2013-14
Allstate's John Washington was first business champion
John Washington of Allstate worked for many years to mobilize the statewide business community to support school partnerships. MAPE recently caught up with John, who is retired and now lives in Ohio, to hear his insights into MAPE’s formation and growth:
“After we organized the first statewide meeting, the concept took off. Everybody thought it was a great opportunity to share ideas and best practices, and that we could have a stronger voice as a statewide organization. We couldn't have done it without Liz Hudson — she was an absolute workhorse.
“It grew from there as we began attracting more business partners from across Mississippi. We knew that the work we were doing was critical to the success of students and the success of education in Mississippi. MAPE has done a lot to bring awareness of the value of partnerships to a higher level.”
From the PARTNERS newsletter, Winter 2013-14
Liz Hudson and MAPE: A Powerful Partnership!
By Michael Bentley, MAPE President
This year marks MAPE's 30th anniversary — 30 years of building and supporting partnerships that make our local schools stronger, our students better prepared and our communities more economically competitive.
While statewide partnership organizations in some other states have faltered, MAPE has thrived, having just completed one of our most successful Winter-Reed Partnership Award programs last October. We have you, our partners, to thank for this long and successful history.
I want to take this opportunity to recognize and thank Liz Hudson, the person who was most instrumental in MAPE’s formation and who is personally responsible for my involvement.
I first met Liz when I was a young aid to then-Gov. Ronnie Musgrove. In 2000, Liz convinced Ronnie to support the Governor’s Awards, and 14 years later, they remain Mississippi’s most prestigious awards program for schoolcommunity partnerships.
Not only do the Governor’s Awards honor the best partnerships in our state, but they also expose successful partnerships to statewide (even nationwide) audiences via media coverage and MAPE’s website and social media, so that others can put best practices to work in their own communities.
MAPE and all of the good that it does is Liz Hudson’s legacy. All Mississippians are indebted to her, whether or not they are actively engaged in a partnership or work in the field of education. MAPE has changed our state’s appreciation for partnerships over the past 30 years, and I know it will continue to do so well into the future.
From the PARTNERS newsletter, Winter 2013-14
Mississippi Association of Partners in Education P.O. Box 2803 Madison, MS 39130-2803 Phone: 601-837-1080 Fax: 601-853-4408 Email:email@example.com