Mississippi Education Reform Collaborative

P3 Strategies serves as the staff of Mississippi Education Reform Collaborative (MERC). MERC is an organization of superintendents who have come together voluntarily to do "what needs to be done for children and their communities."  MERC shares best practices, pools resources, coordinates activities, monitors legislative and regulatory proposals and advocates for children and their communities. 

MERC Superintendents

Founding members from left to right,

Mr. James Bacchus, Dr. Cedric Gray,

Dr. Jacquelyn Thigpen, Dr. Gwendolyn Shannon, Dr. Cederick Ellis and Mr. Jimmy Hopkins

Dr. Jacquelyn Thigpen, Cleveland School District


Dr. Arnetta Crosby, Covington County School District 


Dr. Gwendolyn Shannon


Mr. James Bacchus 


Mr. Jimmy Hopkins


Dr. Cedrick Gray, Jackson Public Schools


Dr. Cederick Ellis, McComb School District


Dr. Virginia Young, Newton Municipal School District


Mr. Cedric Richardson, North Panola School District


Dr. Debra Dace, Sunflower County Consolidated School District

Mr. Christopher Furdge, West Tallahatchie School District

Dr. Darron Edwards, Yazoo City Municipal School District 

Collaboration/Best Practices

While their districts are diverse in size and geography, their students are largely from minority, low-income families.  And while their roles as superintendents are different in each community, they share common problems in seeking to move the needle of success.  In monthly facilitated thought sessions, MERC superintendents honestly raise issues, concerns and seek advice from their peers.  MERC superintendents rely on one another and have a bond of trust and relationship that lets them speak freely, ask questions and learn in a manner not available in other professional and/or community settings. 


MERC superintendents have adopted and have become crusaders within the state education community for the use of sophisticated data analytics to specifically identify students with needs to improve their performance and overall school performance. 


MERC superintendents have the advantage of working with solid, objective, real-time information about their district that gives them the ability to initiate policies and procedures to address their unique issues.


MERC Analysis Teacher Survey 2015


MERC Analysis Teacher Survey 2013



MERC districts work to inform and engage in advocacy that would further the development of not only MERC district schools, but also improve educational policy in the state of Mississippi.  MERC issues major reports to inform legislators and opinion leaders of the facts surrounding their districts and policy initiatives that would improve education. 


Sharing Success provides a representative look of low-income districts and the opportunities available in their districts.


The Impact of Funding Reductions on Mississippi Low-Income School Districts provides state leaders and opinion makers information on the impact of reduced funding experienced after the 2008 recession and how ongoing shortages of MAEP funding has greater harm on low-income districts. 


MERC Annual Report 2014 provides a profile of the districts and their program of work.


The Methodlogy of Collaboration provides insights into how a successful educational collaborative operates.