Thigpen and Ellis are among seven Mississippi school district leaders who formed the Mississippi Education Reform Collaborative in the latter part of 2012.
Districts that make up the collaboration include: Cleveland School District, East Jasper School District, Hattiesburg Public Schools, Hazlehurst City School District, Jackson Public Schools, Shaw School District and Tunica County School District.
The collaboration serves more than 44,000 students in both urban and rural districts.
The superintendents will be working together to share their best practices, coordinate activities and develop program reforms to advance student and school performance.
A primary goal is to recruit and retain highly effective teachers in each district.
“Being a part of MERC has been a great reminder of what transformational leadership is truly about,” said Ellis in a press release. “The structure of each session fosters open and honest dialogue and potential solutions to authentic educational challenges to accelerating achievement for students we serve.
"It is my hope that MERC will design and initiate dynamic, innovative and sustainable systemic changes within our district that will impact education across our great state.”
Thigpen said the association has produced a "forward thinking" atmosphere for the CSD.
"MERC initially started for teacher recruitment and retention because we have a number of good teachers retiring," said Thigpen. "We want to find the same type of quality teachers to replace them."
She added that the movement has since begun to focus on a number of academic elements on a statewide effort.
"It's been a very positive experience for me and the district," said Thigpen. "Big picture, this is going to assist us in being able to find the best teachers who support the mission and vision of the Cleveland School District."
MERC superintendents recently met in Jackson with members of their area’s delegations to the Mississippi Legislature to brief them on their efforts and to provide updates on their respective districts.
The collaboration will conduct its first major effort of its teacher initiative by bringing district principals together in Jackson on April 26-27 for an intensive workshop on how to hire and retain top teachers.
The superintendents will be working with nationally recognized education groups, advocates and foundations to advance their efforts.
Partners include: P3 Strategies, LLC, The New Teacher Project, the Foundation for the Mid South and the Center for Education Innovation.
For more information, contact David Hampton at 601-940-5164, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.