OXFORD, Miss. – Mississippi Teacher Corps veteran Joseph Sweeney has joined the University of Mississippi School of Education faculty as director of the highly selective teacher preparation program.
Sweeney, who took the helm of the Teacher Corps on March 16, is in the midst of preparing for the program’s 26th cohort of new recruits who will undergo hands-on teacher training during the program’s summer training school in Holly Springs in June and July.
“The Teacher Corps is a great program with great people,” said Sweeney, who also serves as an instructor in the Department of Teacher Education. “It’s almost surreal to be back here, but I feel very confident we will continue to offer a valuable service to the state of Mississippi. I feel like I’m home and this is my dream job.”
Established in 1989, the Teacher Corps, which receives its primary funding from the Mississippi Legislature, is an alternate route program that prepares college graduates to teach and succeed in secondary, critical-needs schools in the state. The program provides job placement with full benefits and salary upon finishing its summer training school.
Each year, the summer school calls upon Teacher Corps alumni and UM education faculty to expose the new cohort to skills and tactics they will need as teachers in the state’s most challenging middle and high school classrooms.
“Joe Sweeney was a rising star during his time in the program,” said Mississippi Teacher Corps co-founder Andy Mullins. “He was successful as a teacher and as a graduate student and showed skill and leadership abilities from the very beginning. When the opening occurred, we immediately thought that Joe would be an excellent choice.”
The Teacher Corps, which can accept up to 35 new recruits a year, requires teachers to complete graduate coursework at UM to earn a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction over two years. Graduates also qualify to apply for an advanced teaching license from the Mississippi Department of Education. More than 600 teachers have come through the program.
Sweeney, a native of Traverse City, Michigan, joined the Teacher Corps in 2004 and served as an English teacher at East Side High School in Cleveland. He later served as the principal for the Teacher Corps’ summer school for three years and was an adjunct faculty member in the UM School of Education, continuing his connection to the program.
Before joining UM, Sweeney was an instructional designer and faculty development coordinator at Baptist College of Health Sciences in Memphis, Tennessee, where he worked with faculty members in health care professions to develop and/or redesign curricula to utilize online, face-to-face and hybrid models. Sweeney has also held teaching positions at H.W. Byers Attendance Center in Mt. Pleasant, Byhalia High School in Byhalia and WinBe English School in Mie, Japan.
This spring, Sweeney expects to complete a doctorate in instructional design and technology from the University of Memphis. He also holds a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from UM and a bachelor’s degree in English education from Michigan State University.
“We will continue to build on the great foundation that Dr. Mullins and others have built over 26 years,” Sweeney said. “We will continue to recruit good people, support them in the classroom and solidify the Mississippi Teacher Corps’ long-term and positive role in this state.”