Mississippi State announces a new director for T.K. Martin Center

MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY, Miss. (WCBI) – For weeks, parents of children who attended MSU’s TK Martin Center have been on edge.

That’s because of social media speculation and changes to staffing.

But Friday, Mississippi State announced a new director for the center.

No funding. No staff. Fewer programs. Those are just some of the rumors surrounding the center that works with children who have special needs.

Even though MSU addressed the concerns in May, Friday’s announcement may be just what they need to put peoples minds at ease.

It’s the start of something new for Mississippi State’s T.K. Martin Center.

“The future is positive,” said Kasee Stratton-Gadke.

Assistant Professor Kasee Stratton-Gadke takes over next month as director.

No stranger to people with special needs, she has worked with the university’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Clinic.

But, it’s the fate of some of TK Martin’s programs that worries parents. Some instructors retired. Others moved to part-time.

Parents said they are concerned that critical therapies and needed programs like Camp Jabber Jaw, Project Impact, and Express Yourself! Art has reached the end of the line.

Stratton-Gadke said not to worry.

“All the great services and programs it has in place will continue to remain in place under my leadership. We are very excited about that, and I know many families and children and individuals in the community are very worried about that and whether or not their kids will have somewhere to come and they will. We don’t plan to have any of those services move away, and I hope that we’ll be able to add new services as we move forward,” said Stratton-Gadke.

That takes money.

“As we move forward funding is always a priority, and that certainly will be a top priority for me. I’m really excited that with what funding the center has at the moment I have some great relationships with those partners already,” said Stratton-Gadke.

She will also look at staffing.

“As we move forward I hope that we would be able to maintain staff that we have and be able to keep expanding the center,” said Stratton-Gadke.

Stratton-Gadke will take over as director on July 1.

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