Mississippi Association of Partners in Education #PartnershipPower
2014 University Partnership Award: Jones County Junior College Bobcat Math League Community partners: Joe Frank Sanderson and Sanderson Farms, the Chisholm Foundation, EDA of Jones County, Howard Computers, Mississippi Power, Sandra Wright of Magnolia Realtors, Domino’s Pizza, Corner Market, Walmart, Alexander’s Hardware, Magnolia Bank, First State Bank, Community Bank, Trustmark Bank, Jefferson Medical and Foil-Wyatt Architects
Duration of partnership: 6 yrs 50 volunteers 258 students impacted
Several years ago Jones County Junior College recognized that an unacceptable number of new students were underprepared for post-secondary education. At the same time, economic trends indicated a national shortage of skilled workers, particularly in fields related to math, science, engineering, and technology. In 2008, the college began placing more emphasis on math by hosting a one-day math competition designed to foster a competitive spirit among area high schools. Organizers believed the effort also could improve college preparation levels for new students continuing their education after high school.
In 2012, Jones County Junior College expanded its one-day competition to a season-long “Bobcat Math League” to increase excitement about learning math. High schools competed against one another over a six-week period that culminated in the “Super Bowl” of math. After much success in its first year, the college continued with a new competition format for 2013.
The Bobcat Math League is coordinated primarily by the college's Math Department, and faculty members serve as referees. They officiate weekly regular-season competitions at area high schools and coordinate postseason playoffs. College administrators work with economic developers, business owners, and local leaders to provide guidance and financial support for the league.
To gain support from area high schools and community groups, math instructor Jessica Bunch was appointed Bobcat Math League Commissioner in 2012. Recommendations gathered during community and school meetings were used to develop rules and regulations for the math league. Additionally, a league planning committee was created to foster community support and to help coordinate the competition.
Twenty high schools competed in the 2013 season of Bobcat Math League, with eight teams advancing to the final playoffs. In the Super Bowl, the Presbyterian Christian Bobcats clinched a victory over the Lawrence County Cougars and were declared the 2013 Bobcat Math League Champions.
The excitement of audience at the “Super Bowl” affirmed to everyone that math can be just as thrilling as any sport. Since the conclusion of the 2013 season, six local high schools have voiced an interest in joining the math league.