Dana McLain to head Neshoba’s work-based learning program

Image of Dana McLain

Neshoba Central High School’s new work-based learning program coordinator is a familiar face on campus.

Dana McLain will lead the program, which not only benefits Neshoba Central and its students, but business and industry leaders in the community as well.

There are approximately 70% of 11th and 12th graders in the newly named #ASPIRErockets program this year. The acronym stands for Apprenticeships Successfully Preparing students for Industry and Real-World Experiences.

“They will be known at school and in the community as ASPIRE students,” McLain said.

Neshoba County Superintendent of Education Lundy Brantley said McLain “is the perfect fit” for this position.

“She relates to our students as well as business and industry,” he said. “The ASPIRE program is such a benefit for our students and the community.”

McLain is beginning her 24th year in education, most recently as assistant principal at the high school. She is a former director of the Philadelphia-Neshoba County Career Tech Center.

 “I’m back where my passion lies because it is so rewarding to witness students realize their talents and excel in the things they want to do for the rest of their lives to be successful citizens,” she said.

“I love to see the productivity and excitement in students as they understand their full potential and begin working in a trade that helps them thrive individually.  This also follows our school district’s strategic plan in that we want every student to be college and career ready upon completion of high school.”

McLain said the goal is for 100 percent of Neshoba students to graduate whether they are entering the workforce or going directly to college with a plan in place.

She will serve as a mentor for all work-based learning students in grades 11 and 12 who are in apprenticeships at area businesses and industries.

 She will also collaborate with local business and industry leaders to enhance the apprenticeship program and opportunities for the school district and community.

Students will work anywhere from 5 to 25 hours a week at local businesses gaining experience and knowledge that reflect the student’s individual career pathway as well as their field of interest.

Under McLain’s mentorship, they develop and maintain an accurate individual success plan and learn the importance of such things as communication, appearance, initiative, punctuality and teamwork, among others.

McLain is excited about her new role as 73 percent of seniors last year were involved in work-based learning apprenticeships.

“As a district, we are excited for this opportunity for our students,” she said. “Last year, 112 national industry certifications were earned in various fields. Students received not only their high school diplomas but additional national industry certifications to make them marketable and competitive in the work force. They are leaving high school with a diploma and national industry credentials to immediately begin work if they so desire.”

McLain will also work closely with CTE instructors and students enrolled in Ag and Natural Resource (FFA), Engineering and Robotics, and Digital Media programs as well as the new Precision Machine program in partnership with East Central Community College.

“The ECCC Precision Machine program is housed on our campus,” she said. “We will have students who will be dually enrolled in high school and community college.”

McLain will help facilitate that program in collaboration with ECCC.

This is McLain’s fifth year in the Neshoba County School District.  She previously served as assistant high school principal for four years.

Prior to that, she worked for Lauderdale County Schools serving in capacities as an English II teacher, Assistant Principal, Career Tech Director and Curriculum Director.

Neshoba County became home to her eight years ago. She and her husband Phillip reside in the Calico community. They have six children and two grandchildren.


* Story by Debbie Burt Myers