COLUMBUS, Miss.– Melinda Lowe knows the perfect way to give the faculty and staff of Mississippi University for Women’s School of Education (SOE) a lift.

SOE Faculty and Staff
SOE Faculty and Staff

Thanks to the Mississippi Professional Educators Administrator School Grant Program, Lowe was able to implement the Build On Our Strengths Together (BOOST) project, which is designed to create an environment where the SOE faculty and staff feel appreciated for their contributions and their accomplishments.

“As soon as I saw the RFP (Request For Proposal), I started brainstorming multiple ways I thought would be encouraging and meaningful for our School of Education faculty and staff,” said Lowe, who is the director of the Office of Outreach & Innovation. “We often get so busy that we may not take the time to slow down and re-energize as a team. To build on our strengths, we must work together as a team so we can all accomplish the goals that have been set.”

Lowe kicked off the project Tuesday, Aug. 16 to coincide with the SOE’s first departmental meeting of the semester. She said it was amazing to see the response and reaction from her peers. Lowe said adding food to the event brought a little extra happiness.

But Lowe said the idea behind the BOOST project is about much more than having snack time before meeting.

“As educators, recognition for our hard work and dedication is critically important as it fosters continued engagement and validation,” Lowe said. “Whether you’re teaching in preschool to 12th-grade or in a university, work in the last few years has been more challenging than ever. Our faculty and staff have and continue to work very hard to prepare our students to be the best teachers they can be. The importance of their work especially as we face a growing teacher shortage can be a heavy burden, but that is why we must remember we are better together. The BOOST room provides the opportunity to come together to celebrate, re-engage, brainstorm, challenge, celebrate and prepare to be our best for our students.”

The Mississippi Professional Educators Administrator School Grant Program provides grants up to $1,000 to administrators (PK-12 public and private school administrators, school district-level administrators, and Institute of Higher Learning (IHL) or community college dean or department chair who is an active MPE member) to motivate, inspire, reward and encourage teachers and staff. The grants are intended to provide funding for projects that boost morale and celebrate the accomplishments of a school’s teachers and staff.

Lowe said the timing to implement her idea was perfect considering The W has relaxed COVID restrictions and the SOE has been conducting an intensive program review for the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Lowe said the CAEP self-study created an abundance of stress in the SOE team and that she is glad the BOOST project could provide a welcome respite and showing of support and encouragement.

“Appreciation and recognition efforts do not have to be costly,” Lowe said. “Simply changing the meeting environment can make a big difference. We transformed the conference room for our meeting into a space filled with encouraging words and interactive affirmation walls.”

Lowe said messages like “We don’t do average – We do aWesome!” and “You are appreciated S’more than you know!” will be on display from 1-3 p.m. the first Tuesday of every month when the SOE faculty and staff come together in EDHS room 217.

Not only will each meeting have a theme, but there will be BOOST activities to help foster team-building, a Zen Zone for self-care and brain breaks, birthday recognition and snacks and beverages provided.

The next BOOST meeting will be Sept. 6. Its theme will be “No matter how the cookie crumbles, we have the best faculty and staff!” Cookies will be served as part of the event. In October, the theme for the meeting will be “Life is salty, but being a great team is sweet!” In November, the theme will be “You are appreciated S’more than you know!” In December, the theme will be “Proud of the work WE do and the difference WE make!”

“At the end of the day, we all want to feel valued and appreciated,” Lowe said. “In addition to overt recognition, we must use a variety of ways to build a culture of appreciation and gratitude. This can be accomplished with BOOST, and that is what we need now more than ever.”

About The W

Located in historic Columbus, Mississippi, The W was founded in 1884 as the first state-supported college for women in the United States. Today, the university is home to 2,227 students in more than 70 majors and concentrations and has educated men for 40 years. The university is nationally recognized for low student debt, diversity and social mobility which empowers students to BE BOLD.

Be Bold. Tower with Blue.