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Welcome to the Brainstorm Blog! The primary news source the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science (MSMS), Mississippi's only public, residential high school dedicated to the development of the state's most academically gifted students.

MSMS Music Teacher Quarterfinalist for Grammy Award

MSMS Music teacher Dawn Barham with her band, The Juke-Joint Gypsies

MSMS Music teacher Dawn Barham with her band, The Juke-Joint Gypsies

Columbus, Miss. - An educator from the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science has been named a quarterfinalist for a new award to be presented by the Recording Academy and the Grammy Foundation.

MSMS music teacher, Dawn Barham is one of 217 music educators in America to be named a quarterfinalist for the Music Educator Award out of 30,000 nominees for the honor. She is the only teacher in Mississippi to be included.

“I feel humbly honored,” said Barham upon learning of her status as a quarterfinalist. “I feel fortunate to be in a community of learners that values making music. I have always enjoyed the support of my colleagues, parents and administration at MSMS. This honor really belongs to all of us!”

Barham has been teaching music for 24 years, 20 of those years have been at MSMS. At the school, she teaches several classes, including Orchestra, Choir, Guitar, Guitar Performance, Drama, and Songwriting.

While MSMS is known primarily for showing excellence in the fields of mathematics and science education, the arts and humanities have always been a big part of what makes the school so successful.

“I am of the very strong opinion that music is worthy in and of itself as a discipline,” said Barham. “People should study music for music's sake. In English, Mathematics, and Science, we have a system of symbols, letters and numbers that help us understand our universe; therefore, we value and hold them in high regard. Music has a system created by us also. To not study music is to diminish our humanity. Music at MSMS is a no brainer! Our students get it!"

Barham, a native of West Point, Miss., holds a Master’s degree in Music Education from the University of Southern Mississippi. When she isn’t teaching at MSMS, Barham can often be found playing with her band “The Juke-Joint Gypsies” as well as performing solo acts. June 6 she will be performing at the “Sounds of Summer” in Columbus, Miss.

According to, “The Music Educator Award was established to recognize current educators – K-College in both public and private schools – who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in schools.”

Of the 217 quarterfinalists, ten finalists will be chosen. During the Nov. 2014 Grammy Week, one winner of the ten finalists will be flown to Los Angeles to accept the award, attend the Grammy ceremony and receive a $10,000 honorarium. The remaining nine finalists will receive a $1,000 honorarium and the schools of all 10 finalists will receive matching grants.

Semi-finalists will be announced in August. Visit for more information.

Located in Columbus, Miss. on the campus of the Mississippi University for Women, MSMS is the state’s only public, residential high school specifically designed to meet the needs of Mississippi’s most academically gifted students. Students who attend the school spend their junior and senior years living on the school’s campus and engaging in college level classes in mathematics, science, the humanities and the arts.

Recently, the publications Newsweek and The Daily Beast named MSMS as one of the best high schools in America. The recently graduated class of 2013 alone was offered more than $13.6 million in scholarship opportunities.

Students interested in applying to MSMS must be current Mississippi high school sophomores with a record of outstanding academic achievement, especially in the areas of math and science. Students must also have an ACT score (a score of 20 or higher is recommended) and undergo a rigorous application process. During the application process students will be required to submit a resume, two essays, an original project of their devising and secure four recommendations from their teachers and counselors. Application into the Class of 2015 is now closed; however, students interested in becoming members of the Class of 2016 may begin the process in mid-summer 2013. For more information please visit or call Admissions Counselor Wade Leonard at 1-800-553-6459.

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