Established in 1848 as the Institution for the Instruction of the Blind, the Mississippi School for the Blind (MSB) currently serves more than 150 blind and visually impaired students. The school educates students from kindergarten through twelfth grade, offering both day and residential services. MSB also operates several outreach programs for members of Mississippi’s visually impaired population either too young or unable to attend the school.
MSB opened in 1848 on North Jefferson Street in Jackson and remained there until the Civil War. The facility served as a military hospital during the war, forcing MSB to move to Monticello. The school returned to North Jefferson Street after the war and did not move again until 1882, when the state built a new facility on North State Street. In 1948 MSB moved to a larger and more modern facility on Eastover Drive. As part of a comprehensive building project to consolidate the services and physical plants of MSB and the Mississippi School for the Deaf, MSB moved in December 1999 into a new facility on Eastover Drive.
The state did not offer educational services for African American blind children until 1929, when a program for those children was added at the Piney Woods Country Life School in Rankin County. In 1951 the state built a new school for the African American blind on Capers Avenue in Jackson. Black students remained at the Capers Avenue location until they joined the white students at Eastover Drive in 1980.
The expansion of MSB’s facilities during the second half of the twentieth century coincided with a program to improve and refine the school’s curriculum. Kindergarten through sixth-grade students study in the elementary school, which uses a specialized process to place students and set individual goals according to need. The elementary school core curriculum focuses on mathematics, social studies, language arts, and science. Students also receive training in Braille, orientation and mobility, daily life skills, and the use of computers and adaptive technology. Junior high and secondary school students build on their elementary training and take classes in history, algebra, geometry, biology, physical science, music, and drama. The secondary school also offers classes in health and wellness, physical education, and personal finance. Both the elementary and secondary schools allow qualified students to take some courses at local public schools.
In addition to its academic program, MSB offers a wide range of extracurricular activities. Students can receive either individual or group training in musical and vocal performance, and the MSB band and concert choir perform regularly at the school and at community functions. At regional and local meets, MSB athletes compete in swimming, cheerleading, wrestling, and track.
- Alferdteen B. Harrison, Piney Woods School: An Oral History (1982)
- Mississippi School for the Blind Annual Reports (1973, 1976)
- Mississippi School for the Blind website, www.msb.k12.ms.us