UM to Honor First African-American Faculty Member in Education

School of Education seeks donations for memorial Henderson endowment

Dot Henderson

Dot Henderson

OXFORD, Miss. – Members of the Lafayette-Oxford-University community are working to establish a new endowment to honor the legacy of the late Dorothy “Dot” Henderson, the University of Mississippi’s first African-American faculty member in education.

Henderson, who passed away in December, was an instructor in elementary education at UM from 1978 to 1998. She was the first African-American to hold a full-time faculty position in the School of Education, where she influenced a vast number of students, faculty and staff through her intellect, knowledge and enduring commitment to education in and out of the classroom.

An endowment in Henderson’s name is in the early stages and will provide scholarships for future education students. Donations to the fund can be made online.

“We never knew that (our mother) was the first, because she was never the type of woman to put herself before anyone else,” said Deborah Gipson, Henderson’s eldest daughter and one of six children. “I remember that people always smiled everywhere she went. She encouraged people to find their ‘spirit of strength.’ I think that was one of her greatest qualities – bringing out the best in people.”

In January, the UM School of Education opened the Dorothy Henderson Memorial Scholarship Fund. A total of $25,000 is needed to finalize the legacy endowment, which will benefit future Ole Miss education students. Nearly $24,000 is needed to achieve this goal, which many community members hope to accomplish in the near future.

“Dorothy Henderson’s imprint is seen and felt throughout our community,” said David Rock, UM education dean. “Those who knew her best are inspired by her life. Her pioneering leadership role deserves a permanent remembrance for her contribution to Ole Miss, Oxford and her passion for the education of children.”

For more than half a century, Henderson was a beloved and respected figure in the LOU community. She was an active member of many local and state organizations including the Second Baptist Church, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, the Oxford School District Board of Trustees, the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, the Mississippi Early Childhood Association, Head Start, the Mississippi Humanities Council, the YWCA, Church Women United, the League of Women Voters and numerous others.

A native of De Kalb, Henderson moved to Oxford in 1963 when she and her husband, Robert Lee Henderson, who was also an educator, took faculty positions in local schools. The Hendersons raised six children in Oxford. Over the decades, their family grew to also include 15 grandchildren, 11 great grandchildren and one great great grandchild.

“Her presence could change the whole atmosphere of a room,” said the Rev. Andrew Robinson, pastor of Second Baptist Church in Oxford, where Henderson was a dedicated member of the congregation. “She was always full of wisdom and worked with our mission faithfully. She was the type of person who could always see beyond the challenges in front of you. She saw the positive and the good in all people.”

At Second Baptist, Henderson held multiple leadership positions, including serving on the church’s board of trustees and missionary board. She also taught Sunday school, sang in the choir and more.

Before joining the LOU community, Henderson held teaching positions at elementary schools in Heidelberg, Meridian, Lexington and in Memphis, Tennessee. She also served as director of education at the Institute of Community Services in Holly Springs before joining the UM faculty. Her community service with Head Start and young children would continue throughout her university career, as well.

“Dot was always a real go-getter,” recalled Fannye Love, a longtime colleague of Henderson and UM’s first African-American to obtain the rank of tenured, full professor at the School of Education. “We presented multiple papers and attended multiple conferences together and I remember that she had a great knowledge based of how teachers should be prepared to work with children. She was always involved with so many people across the campus and community.”

Henderson was a published scholar in her field and received many awards and honors for her teaching and service during her Ole Miss tenure. She was her high school salutatorian and held a bachelor’s degree from Jackson State University, a master’s degree from UM and an education specialist degree from Mississippi State University.

“Dorothy always brought a unique perspective to any situation,” said Jean Shaw, UM professor emerita of elementary education. “I remember that her philosophy was that you need to know the children that you teach. They each have significance as individuals and have different backgrounds, likes and dislikes.

“It’s easy to say that children are our future, but she really believed it and lived life as she taught.”

Contributions to the Henderson endowment can be made online or via check to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 401 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655, and designated for the Dorothy Henderson Memorial Scholarship Fund.

Online Certificate Program Focuses on Program Evaluation

UM graduate option to help a variety of professionals enhance evaluation skills

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OXFORD, Miss. – A new online certificate program offered at the University of Mississippi will help working professionals and graduate students from a variety of backgrounds specialize in program evaluation, a highly sought skill in many public and private sector jobs.

Offered through the UM School of Education, the online graduate certificate in program evaluation offers a broad view of evaluation tools and research methods that can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of professionals in education, government agencies, nonprofits and more. Graduates will be trained to use research tools to determine if organizations are on track to meet institutional goals. 

“The purpose of the certificate program is to make applied research accessible to professionals of all kinds,” said Lori Wolff, professor of higher education, director of the Dr. Maxine Harper Center for Educational Research and Evaluation, known as CERE, and coordinator of the program. “More and more organizations today are requiring employees to perform these types of evaluations on the job.”

The UM School of Education was recently ranked among the nation’s top universities for online graduate degrees in education by U.S. News and World Report.

The program may be completed in as little as one year and requires 18 hours of graduate study, including courses in program evaluation, survey research and quantitative and qualitative methods. The program also requires an Internship in Program Evaluation course where students complete a hands-on evaluation project at an organization relevant to their profession.

“There is a huge demand, especially in nonprofits, for evaluation support from consultants,” said Marie Barnard, research assistant professor, associate director of CERE and a member of the program faculty. “This program will prepare professionals who can help agencies design, implement and replicate effective programs.”

The certificate also can be earned as part of an in-progress graduate degree at UM if a graduate student chooses program evaluation as an elective area of study. 

For more information about UM’s online graduate certificate in program evaluation, including information on how to apply whether considering as an add-on or stand-alone certificate, visit http://education.olemiss.edu/online/ or email programevaluation@olemiss.edu.

UM Among Nation’s Top 25 for Online Graduate Degrees in Education

Ole Miss programs climb 10 spots in new U.S. News rankings

Students and faculty members from the UM School of Education celebrate Commencement in the Grove. The school has been ranked among the nation's Top 25 programs for online graduate studies in education. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Students and faculty members from the UM School of Education celebrate Commencement in the Grove. The school has been ranked among the nation’s Top 25 programs for online graduate studies in education. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi has been ranked among the nation’s top 25 institutions for online graduate degrees in education by U.S. News & World Report.

At No. 25, the UM School of Education rose 10 spots from U.S. News’ 2015 rankings.

“We are proud to be recognized for the hard work of our faculty, staff and students,” said David Rock, UM’s education dean. “We are committed to creating quality graduate education that is accessible for working teachers, higher education professionals and counselors who seek to be change agents and leaders in their classrooms and communities.”

Ole Miss is tied with the New York Institute of Technology, the University of Dayton, the University of Nebraska at Kearney and William Carey University, falling directly behind the University of South Carolina and Indiana University, which are tied at No. 22.

UM offers four online graduate degrees designed to be accessible for education professionals including:

  • Master of Arts in higher education
  • Master of Education in early childhood education
  • Master of Education in elementary education
  • Specialist in Education in counselor education/play therapy

The School of Education began offering online degrees in 2010, when it accepted the first class into its online master’s degree in elementary education. In the past five years, the education school has attracted online students from more than 15 states in its four programs.

Education faculty are recruiting for the first class of the university’s new online master’s degree in early childhood education. It is the state’s only online master’s degree in the field and can lead to license endorsement from the Mississippi Department of Education.

“Today, it’s more important than ever to ensure quality graduate programs are accessible to working professionals,” said John Holleman, the school’s director of graduate studies. “We provide the academic quality of a flagship university in a way that fits into the lives of talented and hardworking professionals.”

The School of Education also offers a graduate certificate in program evaluation that can be completed online.

In 2015, the school made news when it unveiled three hybrid Ed.D. programs in higher education, mathematics education and educational leadership, which use a combination of online and in-person coursework designed for experienced practitioners, furthering its ongoing efforts to make quality graduate education accessible to working educators.

The school is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, the nation’s top education accrediting body for U.S. colleges and universities.

For more information about U.S. News & World Report rankings visit http://www.usnews.com/.

For more information about graduate programs at the UM School of Education, visit http://grad.education.olemiss.edu.

UM Establishes Graduate Center for the Study of Early Learning

Childhood education program to support collaboration among pre-K stakeholders

Studies show longterm investment into quality pre-K education provides improved academic performance and longterm public cost savings.

Studies show longterm investment into quality pre-K education provides improved academic performance and longterm public cost savings.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Education has established a new center to provide research and collaborative leadership to support the growth and development of quality early childhood education throughout the state.

Financed with more than $121,000 in external funding from The Phil Hardin Foundation, UM’s Graduate Center for the Study of Early Learning was recently officially approved by the Mississippi Institutes of Higher Learning.

“Our primary purpose is to raise visibility of the importance of early childhood education,” said Cathy Grace, the center’s co-director. “We hope to collaborate with all stakeholders and to share innovative ideas and collectively work toward a better education system for all Mississippi children.”

Above all, the new center is dedicated to providing pre-K stakeholders – including students, teachers, teacher educators, school administrators, policy makers, elected officials, parents, community members and more – with valuable data and research findings about early childhood education programs in Mississippi. The center will also provide research on methods to overcome challenges in the pre-K field, particularly in high-needs districts.

“We are extremely fortunate to have a pre-K leader as influential and talented as Dr. Grace to lead this new center,” said David Rock, dean of the UM School of Education. “We have the opportunity to make a dramatic impact in the area of early childhood education. We must be willing to invest not only money but our time and effort in pre-K education because we know the critical impact it will have on the future achievement and advancement of our state and nation.”

According to the National Institute for Early Education Research, several studies show quality preschool programs can produce lasting gains in academic achievement, including gains in reading and mathematics. Studies also show an estimated $7 return on every $1 invested in public pre-K education in the form of long-term cost savings.

Mississippi offers no statewide early childhood education in public schools.

“As a School of Education, our focus is on improving education for all children in Mississippi,” said Susan McClelland, chair of teacher education at UM. “We believe the center will enable our faculty to have a greater impact on providing educational opportunities and current research that extends beyond our students to our state and community leaders.

“Our hope is that early childhood education in Mississippi will be transformed to ensure every child receives a quality pre-K learning experience.”

The creation of the new center is a continuation of the university’s push to prioritize the training of quality pre-K educators in Mississippi. In 2014, the school launched a new undergraduate endorsement program for elementary education majors and unveiled an online Master of Education program in early childhood education just this August.

“I have no doubt that this center will have a dramatic impact on the future of Mississippi,” said Burhanettin Keskin, associate professor and coordinator of early childhood education at UM. “If we have the collaboration that we are aiming for, it is going to be a game-changer in this state.”

Grace, who has more than three decades of experience in early childhood education, served previously as a professor and the director of the Early Childhood Institute at Mississippi State University and has served as director of early childhood development policy for the Children’s Defense Fund in Washington, D.C. She has also held multiple other leadership positions at the national, regional, state and local level.

Another major goal for the center will be to support the university’s new online master’s degree in early childhood education, which is the only graduate degree of its kind offered in Mississippi. Launched this fall, the online degree can be completed in two years and allows graduates to obtain pre-K teaching licensure from the Mississippi Department of Education.

“From an institutional standpoint, there is a rich history here in support of training quality early childhood educators,” Grace said. “I look forward to helping Ole Miss continue to offer valuable opportunities for educators and others.”

Oliphant-Ingham Named National Top 10 Faculty Member

Secondary education professor honored by Kappa Alpha Theta

Rosemary Oliphant-Ingham is one of 10 outstanding faculty members to be recognized by Kappa Alpha Theta nationwide.

Rosemary Oliphant-Ingham is one of 10 outstanding faculty members to be recognized by Kappa Alpha Theta nationwide.

OXFORD, Miss. – Rosemary Oliphant-Ingham, a professor of secondary education at the University of Mississippi, has been honored by the national Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity as one of the nation’s Top-10 Outstanding Faculty Members.

Oliphant-Ingham has been a member of the UM School of Education faculty since 1998 and is the coordinator of secondary education in the Department of Teacher Education. She was among 10 educators selected from 110 nominees nationwide to receive the honor.

“I knew that I had been nominated by the Ole Miss chapter of Theta, but I had no idea it was for national recognition,” Oliphant-Ingham said. “I was quite surprised when I found out that I had been selected. It really was quite nice.”

Recipients are considered for the award based on nominations provided by students within the fraternity. Gabby Vogt, a sophomore English education major at Ole Miss, nominated Oliphant-Ingham. Vogt is a fellow in the Mississippi Excellence in Teaching Program, where she has worked closely with Oliphant-Ingham.

“Scholarship is Theta’s highest aim,” said Vogt, a native of Metairie, Louisiana. “Dr. O-I makes it clear that academic success is critical. She encourages lifelong learning and sets the example by continuing to take classes in subjects that do not pertain to her field. Dr. O-I continues to be an example of a leading woman and mentor for me and other fellows in METP.”

Established in 1870, Kappa Alpha Theta was the nation’s first Greek-letter fraternity for women. Since 2011, the organization has selected 10 outstanding college faculty members annually to receive this prestigious award.

“Since our founding nearly 150 years ago, scholarship has been our highest aim,” said Laura Ware Doerre, Kappa Alpha Theta national president. “We are delighted to recognize the faculty members who help cultivate our intellectually ambitious women.”

As part of this recognition, Oliphant-Ingham and her work at UM will be featured in the winter edition of the Kappa Alpha Theta Magazine.

Besides Oliphant-Ingham, the 2015 honorees are:

  • George Bent, Washington & Lee University
  • Allison Calhoun, Whitman College
  • Justin Dyer, University of Missouri
  • Peter Gallay, Quinnipiac University
  • Richard Hardy, Indiana University
  • Kristen Jamison, University of Richmond
  • Katherine Merseth, Harvard University
  • Rupert Nacoste, North Carolina State University
  • William Smedick, Johns Hopkins University

UM Partners with MUW to Expand Jumpstart

Program provides service and teaching opportunities for college students

Ole Miss sophomore Monica Riley is one of 25 UM students volunteering in the UM chapter of Jumpstart.

Ole Miss sophomore Monica Riley is one of 25 UM students volunteering in the UM chapter of Jumpstart.

OXFORD, Miss. – A new partnership between the University of Mississippi and Mississippi University for Women will expand Jumpstart, a national organization that helps children prepare for kindergarten by developing language and literacy skills, into the Columbus area.

Until now, UM has been home to the state’s only Jumpstart chapter. The program, in its fourth year at Ole Miss, is coordinated through the university’s Center for Excellence in Literacy Instruction.

“Jumpstart brings awareness to the importance of early childhood education and allows children to engage in language experiences with trained adults,” said Angela Rutherford, CELI director. “We are happy to help expand Jumpstart to benefit Mississippi children in partnership with faculty and staff at MUW.”

UM has CELI staff and 25 undergraduate Jumpstart volunteers from a variety of academic majors working in four pre-K classrooms in Oxford and Okolona. The initial goal is to have up to 12 volunteers working at centers near MUW. Such a partnership would expand Mississippi Jumpstart programs by nearly a third.

“The education department at MUW values collaboration with and among faculty, students, P-12 educational facilities and between universities,” said Monica Riley, chair of education at MUW. “This is a great opportunity for our students to be involved in the local community while making a difference in the lives of the children. Further, the opportunity to implement the literacy lessons will provide valuable learning for our students.”

Mississippi does not offer universal public pre-kindergarten education and data suggests a huge need in this area. A 2014 assessment by the Mississippi Department of Education found that more than 65 percent of Mississippi children do not possess the literacy skills needed for entering kindergarten. Literacy research suggests that children who enter kindergarten having experienced quality pre-K instruction are much more likely to be proficient readers by third grade, Rutherford said.

“Jumpstart provides an organized workforce that can benefit pre-K students at both public and private centers,” said Olivia Morgan, Jumpstart site manager for CELI. “It also reduces the adult-to-child ratio in classrooms, allowing for more individualized instruction.”

Each Jumpstart volunteer makes a commitment of at least 300 volunteer hours in an academic year, which includes training, lesson preparation and professional evaluation. As part of Jumpstart training, volunteers complete 30 hours of preparation before entering the classroom, including early learning knowledge assessments.

“It’s wonderful to volunteer with children because you can literally have an impact on their future,” said Nicole Johnson, a sophomore hospitality management major and Jumpstart volunteer from Rockwall, Texas. “Having someone to help you learn to read is a huge privilege that helps shape the people in our community. I think being part of this program will help me be a better parent one day and a better community member.”

In four years, Jumpstart has proven to be beneficial to multiple educational facilities working with UM’s chapter.

“Jumpstart has made a huge difference here,” said Jane Prater, a pre-K teacher at ABC Learning Center in Oxford. “In just four years, I would say we have gone from just being a day care facility to being an academic center that supports literacy development.”

The new Jumpstart chapter at MUW should be operating by year’s end with support from CELI staff. CELI’s long-term goal is to identify partner institutions to continue to grow the program throughout the state.

For more information about Jumpstart, visit http://www.jstart.org/.

UM Admits 16 into Hybrid Doctor of Education Program

Professional education doctorate focuses on problem-based learning for school leaders

The first cohort of UM’s Hybrid Ed.D. in K-12 Leadership has a combined 199 years experience in education.

The first cohort of UM’s hybrid doctorate in K-12 leadership has a combined 199 years experience in education.

OXFORD, Miss. – The first class of the University of Mississippi’s hybrid Doctor of Education program in K-12 leadership gathered on campus recently to begin the three-year process of earning professional education doctorates. Most of their learning sessions, though, will be in various locations across north Mississippi

Unlike traditional doctoral programs, UM’s hybrid Ed.D. utilizes both online courses and face-to-face seminars on weekends. As working professionals, participants can immediately use what they learn to benefit their school districts.

“The most attractive aspect of the program is that we are going to have the chance to see what research and theory look like in practice,” said Jamone Edwards, assistant superintendent of the North Panola School District and one of the initial cohort’s members. “For me, I hope to bring innovation and strategy back to the North Panola School District.”

The Ole Miss program integrates the dissertation into the curriculum, an approach used by only a few elite universities, including Harvard and Vanderbilt. The program is designed to be specialized, but challenging and success-driven, said Doug Davis, associate professor and director of doctoral programs in educational leadership at the UM School of Education.

“We have extremely high expectations for this first cohort and that’s nothing but a good thing,” Davis said. “The focus of this program is to learn the knowledge base that comes from research and theory and enable practitioners to successful apply it to achieve results in their districts.”

The group of 16 hails from school districts across the northern half of Mississippi and southwest Tennessee. They have more than 199 years combined experience in K-12 education.

The group also includes Regina Biggers, principal of Kosciusko Middle Elementary School; Bobby J. Cossey Jr., assistant principal of Rankin Elementary School in Tupelo; Angela Ellison, principal of Como Elementary School; Valarie Ellis-Barnes, principal of North Panola Middle School; Ashley Fonte, curriculum coordinator of the South Panola School District; Cloyd Garth, principal of Aberdeen High School; Chandler Gray, curriculum coordinator for professional development for the Corinth School District; Vanessa Hopkins, instructional literacy coach for Shelby County Schools in Memphis, Tennessee; Mark Jean-Louis, assistant principal of Shivers Middle School in Aberdeen; Talina Knight, assistant principal of Tupelo Middle School; Cindy Risher, assistant principal of Horn Lake Intermediate School; LaTonya Robinson, principal of Della Davidson Elementary School in Oxford; Thomas Tillman, principal of Lafayette Upper Elementary School in Oxford; Deatrice White, assistant superintendent and federal programs director of the Coffeeville School District; and Haley Wilson, assistant principal of Lafayette Elementary School in Oxford.

The new program was developed because of an ongoing collaboration with the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate, a consortium of more than 80 institutions undertaking an examination of professional doctorates in education.

While the first classes of the semester take place on the Oxford campus, the cohort will travel to their fellow participants’ school districts and hold class roughly once a month. This will allow, for example, an assistant principal at Lafayette Middle School to get immersed in public education environments in the Delta or Aberdeen or Shelby County Schools.

“The hybrid Ed.D program provides the opportunity to continue my assistant principalship while embedding new knowledge and reflection into my professional practice,” said Wilson, a Batesville native. “From my experience, the cohort model also provides the support necessary to create a group of professional educators who maintain a learning community for years to come.”

The hybrid Ed.D. is rooted in problem-based learning and will enable these education leaders to identify goals within their own school districts and incorporate these goals into their doctoral studies.

“When you are dealing with a problem, it has to be broken down before you can solve it,” said Dennis Bunch, UM associate professor and coordinator of educational leadership. “That’s the valuable part of going through this process as a cohort. Change can be uncomfortable and cohort members get to go through that together and learn how to accomplish their goals as a group.”

The new doctoral program also rethinks the traditional dissertation by requiring doctoral students to complete a “Dissertation in Practice,” which is a major research project focused on solving a real-world problem in Mississippi education. The dissertation will be integrated into the curriculum of the Ed.D. Students will have completed prospectuses (typically the first three chapters of a dissertation) by the end of the second year of study.

Mississippi Excellence in Teaching Program Admits Third Cohort

Prestigious teaching scholarship provides unique opportunities in exchange for commitment to teach in state

UM third METP Cohort (left to right). Back row: Harper Panter, Luke Lee, Alex Battaglia, Bre Comley, Austin Bradley, Abby Ozement. Middle row: Allie Roberson, Katie Simpson, Meg Besaw, Julie Banys, David Hamidy. Front row: Sarah Moncrief, Jenna Antolik, Shevanti Retnam, Allison Herman, Savannah Reeb.

UM third METP Cohort (left to right). Back row: Harper Panter, Luke Lee, Alex Battaglia, Bre Comley, Austin Bradley, Abby Ozement. Middle row: Allie Roberson, Katie Simpson, Meg Besaw, Julie Banys, David Hamidy. Front row: Sarah Moncrief, Jenna Antolik, Shevanti Retnam, Allison Herman, Savannah Reeb.

OXFORD, Miss. – Sixteen University of Mississippi freshmen from nine states joined the student body this week as fellows in the third class of the Mississippi Excellence in Teaching Program, one of the nation’s most valuable scholarships for future educators.

The group possesses an average ACT score of 29 and represents substantial growth for the UM program, which has 46 students enrolled from 13 states.

“You’re part of the UM family already,” UM Acting Chancellor Morris Stocks told the group Aug. 21 during an orientation session at the Lyceum. “This is the largest and brightest freshman class our university has ever seen and you are now part of it.”

The select group includes: Jenna Antolik and Julia Banys, both of Glencoe, Missouri; Alex Battaglia of Bel Air, Maryland; Meghan Besaw of Madison, Alabama; Austin Bradley-Tillett of Burleson, Texas; Breanna Comley of Belleville, Illinois; David Hamidy of Alpharetta, Georgia; Allison Herman of Niceville, Florida; Luke Lee of Madison; Sarah Moncrief of Olive Branch; Abigail Ozment of Iuka; Harper Panter of Saucier; Savannah Reeb of Lawrence, Kansas; Shevanti Retnam of Oxford; Allie Roberson of Canton and Katie Simpson of Madison.

METP prepares top-performing students for careers as secondary English or mathematics teachers and is funded by the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation of Jackson, which awarded UM and its sibling chapter at Mississippi State University a $12.95 million grant to build the program in 2012.

Ten of the new students will study English education and six will study mathematics education.

“There is no other program like this in the nation,” UM education dean David Rock told the group. “There are programs all over the country that will cover your tuition, but METP provides opportunities that you won’t see anywhere else because bringing students like you into education is just that important.”

The program offers four years of full tuition, room and board, a technology stipend, professional development, study abroad and more. All fellows make a five-year commitment to teach in Mississippi public schools after graduation.

“It’s wonderful to see such talented and passionate young people from across the nation coming here to focus their attentions on education,” said Ryan Niemeyer, METP director. “We’ve maintained the highest standards for METP. Each fellow was selected because he or she holds top credentials and a genuine belief in the important role education plays in our society.”

While most education majors begin education coursework and field experiences during their junior year, METP fellows are immersed in educational issues and theories from their first semester with specialized seminars each year.

“I want to be a teacher because I believe the greatest goal worth striving for is helping others,” said Hamidy, an English education major. “METP provides the very best opportunity for me to one day accomplish my ultimate goal and life purpose: to be a successful and impactful high school English teacher who influences students’ futures.”

Also, METP students from both Ole Miss and MSU come together each semester for cross-campus learning activities at both campuses, allowing them to learn from faculty at both institutions.

“I think it’s great that this is a collaborative program,” said Ozment, a math education major. “All of the plans we have to work together make me think that METP is a program that will have a very positive impact on the state of Mississippi as a whole.”

This summer, UM’s first METP cohort (Class of 2017) will take the program’s first study abroad trip to England and Scotland, where they will visit universities and secondary schools to gain a multicultural perspective on education issues.

UM Launches Online Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education

Program makes pre-K specialization accessible for educators

Several studies show quality preschool programs can produce lasting gains in academic achievement. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Several studies show quality preschool programs can produce lasting gains in academic achievement. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Education is offering a new online master’s degree in early childhood education. The Master of Education program is designed to prepare professional educators for a variety of roles within the field.

“If you look at the states leading in education, you will see that they have invested a substantial amount of resources in early childhood education,” said Burhanettin Keskin, UM coordinator and associate professor of early childhood education. “All the research is clear on the long-term value of programs focused on pre-K education.”

According to the National Institute for Early Education Research, several studies show quality preschool programs can produce lasting gains in academic achievement, including gains in reading and mathematics. Studies also show an estimated $7 return on every $1 invested in public pre-K education in the form of long-term cost savings.

The 30-credit degree program includes a program track that leads to licensure from the Mississippi Department of Education. Coursework within the program will cover child development, theoretical foundations, educational research, the integration of arts and play in pre-K learning, contemporary issues and more.

ECE-banner-WhiteBGUM began developing its program in 2013, after the School of Education received $1.1 million in external funding from the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation to develop both undergraduate and graduate level curricula in the field. Last fall, UM launched a 12-hour undergraduate pre-K endorsement option for elementary education majors.

“Our early childhood faculty have designed a program that integrates sound research with effective practice to provide early childhood educators with a program that will enable them to be experts in the field,” said Susan McClelland, chair of the UM Department of Teacher Education. “Research clearly demonstrates that early interactions between children and teachers focused on creating an engaging learning environment helps children acquire new knowledge and skills and enhances verbal communication. Our faculty have done an exceptional job in designing such a program.”

The online M.Ed. program requires applicants to hold a minimum 3.0 GPA on the last 60 hours of their undergraduate coursework as well as competitive Praxis II content scores or competitive GRE scores. The licensure track requires students to hold or be eligible to hold a teaching license in elementary education.

The new degree program is an opportunity for education professionals to expand their knowledge and skills in way that directly benefits young children and, by extension, Mississippi and beyond, Keskin said.

“Think of early childhood education more about providing optimum environments for children so that they can unfold their capabilities rather than solely ‘educating’ them,” he said. “You can have two identical seeds, but the one that gets the best sunlight and soil and water is more likely to do better than the one that does not.”

UM Center for Mathematics and Science Education Awarded $1.6 Million

Funding for STEM education center renewed for three years

Middle and high school teachers develop hands-on science lessons during ASM Materials Camp, one of many professional development opportunities provided by the CMSE.

Middle and high school teachers develop hands-on science lessons during ASM Materials Camp, one of many professional development opportunities provided by the CMSE.

OXFORD, Miss. – The Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation of Jackson has awarded $1.6 million to the University of Mississippi’s Center for Mathematics and Science Education to support its efforts to improve STEM education statewide over the next three years.

The grant marks the third time Hearin has renewed funding for the influential center, which celebrates 10 years of service in December.

“For us, this is affirmation that our work is having a real and positive impact,” said John O’Haver, CMSE director. “We’re proud and grateful for the Hearin Foundation’s support of our mission to improve the STEM pipeline flowing throughout our state.”

Established in 2006, the CMSE is part of the UM School of Education and provides professional development for more than 1,000 Mississippi STEM educators each year as well as a variety of hands-on STEM education programs for thousands of K-12 students. The CMSE has a direct impact on more than 66 percent of public school districts in Mississippi.

Over the next three years, CMSE staff plan to work more closely with the UM Department of Teacher Education. Through the grant, the center will collaborate with the department’s existing “Grow as a Group” initiative, a study of the professional development partnership possibilities when a school has a mathematics student teacher from UM who is part of its yearlong student teaching program.

The program will help bring professional development opportunities to teachers at schools where student teachers are placed. The development activities will be conducted by UM graduate students working in the field with student teachers. This initiative aims to provide updated skills and knowledge to teachers who do not have time to attend training away from their school site.

The new grant also will help provide scholarships for K-12 students to attend numerous camps and learning activities at UM.

In addition to professional development and K-12 STEM programs, the CMSE has provided valuable research fellowships for graduate students that have helped the university increase the number of earned Ph.D. degrees in mathematics education by 790 percent over the past nine years.

Alumni of the CMSE fellowship program work as faculty members at K-12 and post-secondary institutions across the state and beyond, including Blue Mountain College, Middle Tennessee State University, Mississippi State University, Mississippi College and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, as well as at Ole Miss.

Other accomplishments by the center include:

  • Redesign of mathematics content courses for UM education majors
  • Introduction of National Science Foundation’s Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program at UM
  • Launch of FIRST Tech Challenge Robotics competitions for middle and high school students statewide, with 975 percent growth over four years
  • Development of a portable planetarium program that has benefitted more than 7,400 students since 2012
  • Establishment of UM’s MathCamp, Engineering Camp, ASM Teacher’s Camp and STEM Competition and Trebuchet Competition
  • Launch of more than 10 major professional development programs for teachers, including UM’s Mathematics Specialist Conference, Project PrIME, the MaPLES Initiative, the DEEP Learning Communities Project and UM Common Core Workshop series.

“From the start, we’ve had this vision of providing good work that benefits the state of Mississippi,” said Alice Steimle, CMSE associate director. “I like knowing that the hard work and the effort that we’ve put in has been recognized and is making an impact.”