By Justin Hodges


Families First and Flexible Path to a Diploma


It’s one thing to talk about finishing up high school education years after the fact—but it is never too late. After all, life is different for everyone. We all have our own hopes and challenges, and the paths to success are just as varied as the people on this planet.


Surrounded by family, friends, and faculty members, graduates of The Families First for Mississippi Online High School Diploma Program received their diploma on January 3, 2018. Many graduates from different backgrounds, struggles, and desires anxiously prepared to receive their high school diplomas to better their path of success and to provide for their families.


“The vision of always having my diploma was a goal I set after coming out of high school. I never knew when or how I might achieve that goal. But I knew I wasn’t going to stop until I had done so. It’s almost like a dream come true. This diploma is a pass in my life, showing that I have accomplished a major goal in life, and I feel I have many doors open to great opportunities in the real world,” said Graduate Tierney Givens of Southaven.


The room was filled with plenty of tears, along with feelings of joy and happiness. Children were able to experience their parents accomplish something meaningful and be a positive role model in their lives.


Barbie Ducksworth, Education and Diploma Director, stated, “This program is an impactful one that can open doors for high school seniors who are unable to pass exit exams and adults who desire this credential as a requisite for moving their families forward.”


In today’s challenging job market, it is more difficult than ever to find gainful employment. More and more employers are requiring job applicants to have a comprehensive educational background. This means in many cases job applicants will need to have at minimum a high school diploma or equivalent.


We often times find ourselves making excuses such as, “I’m afraid I won’t fit in,” “I’m afraid it’ll be too expensive,” or “I’m afraid it’ll take up too much time.” Families First for Mississippi offers students an option to earn a high school diploma in a flexible and hassle-free environment. Whether you want to take a course in a private home, computer lab, or classroom setting, Families First can cater to those needs.


Graduate Lashundra Wooten of Batesville, shared, “I would like to thank Families First for giving me this opportunity to take this class. It was a second chance for me to get what I missed out on the first time. I want to thank my child who stood behind me 100 percent. I cried and prayed many nights when I first got started in this program about how this was the best thing that could have ever come my way. Now that I have finished I can continue to go to school or find me a better job so that I can support my family.”


“New Learning Resources Online is excited about our partnership with Families First,” stated Justin Hodges, Vice President of New Learning Resources Online and the administrator of the district’s distance learning program.


A total of 12 students graduated with their high school diplomas and were given a second chance when they thought they had no chance.



“This graduation means the world to me! My son was very helpful in motivating me to continue working hard. He was so proud of me when I got my diploma. I went home and put both our diplomas side by side on the shelf. Even though I am super excited about having my physical diploma in my hands, it’s nothing like walking that stage in my cap and gown! I have dreamed about this moment for a long time and I thank God, the Families First staff, and my teachers. As I sit here and type, I just laugh because I can’t believe it. Thank you and the entire Families First program for this opportunity,” shared graduate Melissa Cooper of Courtland, MS.


Hodges also stated, “We are educators because we want to impact students’ lives. Through this partnership, together, we have already impacted the lives of hundreds of Families First students over the past year and want to help many more. NLRO is thankful for the opportunity to continue serving the educational needs of Mississippians in the Families First program. We will continue to leverage our experience gained in the last 10 years through providing an accountable and accredited online high school program to over 25,000 students nationwide. Through this partnership with Families First, NLRO will remain committed to impacting student lives by helping equip learners with academic knowledge and life skills necessary for a prosperous future.”


Families First for Mississippi and New Learning Resources Online are dedicated to an educational philosophy that considers the diverse needs of students and families. New Learning Resources Online (NLRO) continues to help students with academic and career achievement. For more information on Families First for Mississippi, visit



Justin Hodges is Vice President of Online Services at New Learning Resources, Inc.

Pro-Life Mississippi