UM Principal Corps Admits Seventh Cohort

Elite K-12 leadership program expands placements to eastern Mississippi

OXFORD, Miss. – Eleven outstanding educators from school districts across the state make up the seventh cohort of the Principal Corps, the University of Mississippi’s elite program for K-12 leadership.

The seventh cohort of the Principal Corps (Left to Right): Melanie Wells, Leslie Mikell, Brantley Pierce, Tristal Watson, Brock Ratcliff, Brad Blake, Emma Cornwall, Kristy Dunning and Stephanie Crowell. Stephanie Crowell and Alyson Saucier not pictured. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

The seventh cohort of the Principal Corps (Left to Right): Melanie Wells, Leslie Mikell, Brantley Pierce, Tristal Watson, Brock Ratcliff, Brad Blake, Emma Cornwall, Kristy Dunning and Liz Towle. Stephanie Crowell and Alyson Saucier not pictured. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

The group includes Brad Blake of the Vicksburg-Warren School District, Emma Cornwall of the Columbus School District, Stephanie Crowell of the Quitman County School District, Kristy Dunning of the DeSoto County School District, Leslie Mikell of the Lauderdale County School District, Brantley Pierce of Perry County Schools, Brock Ratcliff of Harrison County Schools, Alyson Saucier of Harrison County Schools, Elizabeth Towle of Marshall County Schools, Tristal Watson of Hattiesburg Public Schools and Melanie Wells of Rankin County Schools. Each recruit was nominated for admission into the Principal Corps by his or her district superintendent.

With participants hailing from Columbus and Meridian, the seventh class marks a new presence in east Mississippi for the program. Established in 2009, the 13-month program awards graduates with a master’s or specialist degree in educational leadership from the UM School of Education and has a near-perfect success rate in landing its graduates jobs as educational leaders.

“This program will be a challenging experience that prepares you to serve as a transformational leader,” said Tom Burnham, interim director of the Principal Corps and two-time state superintendent of education. “Each of you will learn to make difficult decisions and the skills and processes needed to serve as an instructional leader focused on moving a school toward higher levels of success, even when it’s challenging.”

One of the most valuable K-12 leadership scholarships in the nation, the program includes full tuition, books and fees, as well as housing and living expenses while completing coursework at Ole Miss The Principal Corps also provides funding to maintain recruits’ salary during the program.

“Our goal is have every Principal Corps graduate in a leadership role in a Mississippi school,” said David Rock, UM education dean. “We know the impact that building level leaders have on student achievement. We need great principals to lead positive change in each school in our state.”

The program focuses on combining theory with experience-based learning. During full-time internships, recruits work closely with mentor administrators, often serving as acting assistant principals. They graduate with a year of full-time experience and often receive job offers from internship sites.

“The most attractive aspect for me was that you come out of the program with a year of full-time experience,” said Leslie Mikell, a recruit from Northeast Lauderdale Elementary in Meridian. “I feel so privileged to be part of such a competitive and prestigious program.”

All Principal Corps graduates make a five-year commitment to stay in Mississippi after graduation and receive a $10,000 bonus upon signing a contract as a principal or assistant principal and beginning work. With 66 graduates, the ranks of Principal Corps alumni could grow to 77 next year.

“For me, this is a chance to seek opportunities and enhance my discipline,” said Brantley Pierce, a recruit from Perry Central High School in New Augusta. “So far, it’s been inspiring to surround myself with people who have the same career goals and are invested in improving education in Mississippi.”

During June, recruits will complete coursework at the Oxford campus before reporting to their first internship site in the fall and a second site in the spring. Each principal-in-training also attends classes at Ole Miss one weekend a month throughout the year.

Originally funded with $2 million in startup money from the Jim and Donna Barksdale Foundation in 2009, the program received additional funding in October 2012, when the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation awarded Principal Corps $1.5 million in new funding to expand placements across the state.

Generosity, Faith and Service

Capertons support UM with Ole Miss Women's Council scholarship

UM Chancellor Dan Jones (left) and Debbie Vaughn (right), senior executive director of development for UM, thank Winston “Cape” and Barbara Caperton of Warrenton, Va., for establishing the Barbara Caperton Scholarship Endowment.

OXFORD, Miss. – Winston “Cape” and Barbara Caperton of Warrenton, Va., attended a recent Ole Miss football game as guests of Chancellor Dan Jones, in gratitude for their longtime support and for the establishment of the Barbara Caperton Ole Miss Women’s Council Scholarship Endowment.

A native of Noxapater, Cape Caperton is a University of Mississippi alumnus and supporter, both financially and spiritually.

“I’ve said many prayers for you, Chancellor, because you have had trying times in the past during your leadership and I’ve admired how you’ve handled them,” he told Jones.

“I appreciate that,” Jones said. “I knew when I took this job we would have some trying moments, but they are also teachable moments. That’s part of life for a university. Thank you for your prayers – and please don’t stop.”

The Capertons, accompanied by their son and daughter-in-law, Chris and Rebecca Caperton, also of Warrenton, assured Jones that their thoughts would continue for his administration.

The Capertons’ visit came as they were dedicating additional funds to the scholarship endowment they first pledged back in 2007. As part of the Ole Miss Women’s Council, the Caperton scholarship helps provide tuition and books for young men and women, as well as guidance and training in leadership skills, career development and personal growth throughout the student’s tenure at the university.Read the story …

UM Graduate Student Teaches Physics Concepts at Tougaloo Summer Camp

University of Mississippi graduate student Arif Mohd (fourth from left) spends some time with his students at the Physics Summer Program at Tougaloo College.

OXFORD, Miss. – One of the highlights of Arif Mohd’s summer was spending a week teaching complex physics concepts – from quantum mechanics to astrometry – to high school students as part of the Physics Summer Program at Tougaloo College in Jackson.

“My choice of topics was geared towards giving the students as much exposure to physics as possible, the latest discoveries and how we got there,” said Mohd, a graduate physics student at the University of Mississippi.

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UM Center for Mathematics and Science Education Hosts Educators from Botswana

Mannie Lowe (left), FIRST program manager for the Center for Mathematics and Science Education at the University of Mississippi, explains a LEGO robot simulation to University of Botswana faculty members Shana Mompoloki Suping (second from left), Sesutho Koketso Kesianye and Kgomotso Gertrude Garegae. UM photo by Ryan Whittington.

OXFORD, Miss. – Since its launch six years ago at the University of Mississippi, the Center for Mathematics and Science Education has garnered worldwide acclaim for its approach and methods.

And just last week, professors and instructors from the University of Botswana visited Ole Miss to meet with CMSE representatives and faculty from other science, technology, engineering and mathematics departments as part of efforts to create a similar center in Botswana.

Sesutho Koketso Kesianye, Shana Mompoloki Suping and Kgomotso Gertrude Garegae, faculty members with the Department of Math and Science Education at the University of Botswana, visited Ole Miss after deciding that the CMSE is the best of its kind. Besides touring CMSE facilities and teacher workshops, the trio also met with representatives from UM’s Provost Office, School of Education and other campus departments.

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Disaster Resistant University Project Schedules Public Meeting

OXFORD, Miss. – The leaders of the University of Mississippi’s Disaster Resistant University project are set to discuss the hazards of severe weather and how development of new campus facilities have changed the risks at an April 24 public meeting in Oxford.

Everyone from the Oxford-Lafayette County community is invited to the meeting, set for 6 p.m. at the Oxford Conference Center.Read the story …

MLK Day of Service

Oxford’s first Martin Luther King Day of Service was held Monday, January 16 at the Oxford Activity Center. The event, sponsored by Volunteer Oxford, the University of Mississippi, College Corps, VISTA and Oxford Park Commission, brought local families and students together for a family-friendly event benefiting Doors of Hope Transition Ministries and Boys and Girls Club of Oxford. The day’s activities included a book reading and singing corner, an “I Have a Dream” poster station, a MLK quilt project, a Civil Rights trivia room, and a games station. More than 85 volunteers donated their time to helping at the event, and over 140 guests came to be a part of it. Coordinators of the day of service hope to make this an annual Oxford event. Read the story …

Clarion Ledger: Thousands attend service for 3 Ole Miss students killed in crash

Three Ole Miss students killed in an accident on I-55 Sunday were remembered Wednesday for their sense of humor, love of life, close friendship and their devotion to Christianity.

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Commercial Appeal: Opera sings praises of collard greens

Although there are no definitive chronicles on the subject, it seems safe to say that the entire history of opera had never before included the word “jiveass” — that is, until it was included in “Leaves of Greens,” an opera performed by University of Mississippi students in Oxford on Sunday morning.

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Clinton News: Ole Miss launches effort to increase science grads

The University of Mississippi has launched an aggressive initiative to increase the number of graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, aka STEM, in the state.

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Clarion Ledger: Base Pair matches students, UMC mentors

Through a research project at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Justin Porter has found a link between hypertension and fibroid tumors.

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