UM Alumni Margaret and Kat King Celebrate Third Book

Oxford natives hold book launch at Off Square Books

King Book

Margaret and Kat King

OXFORD, Miss. – Oxford authors and Ole Miss alumni Margaret and Kat King will celebrate the publication of their third book, “Our Josephine,” at 5 p.m. Tuesday (July 1) at a book-signing event at Off Square Books.

The identical twins’ most recent publication is a memoir set in Vicksburg in 1957, when the King sisters were sent to stay with their 88-year-old great grandmother for 10 days. The book focuses on the duo’s relationship with a young woman named Josephine, a 16-year-old African-American caregiver to their great-grandmother. In the memoir, Kat and Margaret experience the complexities of race relations in the 1950s South from a 9-year-old white child’s perspective.

“I remember we went into town one day and there were two water fountains: white and colored,” Margaret recalled. “So, I remember that I wanted to drink some colored water. I went over there and thought it was broken. It was just like the water out of the white fountain. We went through a lot of different phases of trying to understand what was going on in the world. We realized our lives were so different from Josephine’s.”

The alumni aren’t looking to turn a profit with the publication of “Our Josephine.” The pair said that if success does come their way, they plan to invest it into the Oxford community. They also hope to help Josephine, who is still alive and well in Vicksburg, build a nice house on her family’s land with profits from the book. Josephine is scheduled to attend the book-signing event.

Graduates of the Ole Miss School of Education, Margaret and Kat have previously published two other works concerning their childhood, the first being “Y’all Twins?” and the second book “Which is Which?” Their debut work, Y’all Twins?” is set in Oxford in the 1950s and paints a picture of their hometown when the Oxford and Ole Miss community was a fraction of its current size.

During this time, the King sisters had more than one run-in with Nobel Prize-winning author William Faulkner, who lived just down the road. When they weren’t sneaking rides to the corner of their street in the back of Faulkner’s wagon, the two were usually getting into some other sort of trouble or adventure.

Kat, Margaret King Book Cover“I’d be Lucy and she’d be Ethel,” said Kat, speaking in reference to her sister. “Lucy was always the one that got them into trouble. That was pretty much always me.”

Kat, a lifelong educator, is a mathematics instructor at Northwest Mississippi Community College, and Margaret is a retired government employee. The twins built a house together on land in Oxford that their father bought in the mid-1950s. Their writing process consists of the two recalling memories in their living room with one laptop.

“Margaret always insists that we write it together,” Kat said. “If I did it all, I would probably just paint the entire picture to make myself look better.”

The event will be catered by Louisiana Rub Down and will also feature wine, cheese and chocolate chip cookies baked personally by the King twins. The sisters will sign copies of their book that will be available for purchase at the event.

Ole Miss Principal Corps Admits Largest Cohort to Date

P-12 leadership program strengthens ties throughout Mississippi

The sixth cohort of the Principal Corps marks the largest group to date and includes aspiring principals from north, central and south Mississippi. Left to right: Angela Lowery, Teresa McLeod, Candace Henderson, Eric Sumrall, Mary Moak, John Howard, Trena Warren, Clay Garner, Wendi Husley, Marcus Stewart, Carrie Speck, Bryan Giles, Danielle Miller, Kristen Langerman, Tina Temple Moore, Carol Davis Smith, Shamekia Issac and Joshua Lindsey.

The sixth cohort of the Principal Corps marks the largest group to date and includes aspiring principals from north, central and south Mississippi. Left to right: Angela Lowery, Teresa McLeod, Candace Henderson, Eric Sumrall, Mary Moak, John Howard, Trena Warren, Clay Garner, Wendi Husley, Marcus Stewart, Carrie Speck, Bryan Giles, Danielle Miller, Kristen Langerman, Tina Temple Moore, Carol Davis Smith, Shamekia Issac and Joshua Lindsey.

OXFORD, Miss. – Eighteen teachers from across the state gathered Monday (June 2) at the University of Mississippi to embark on a transformational journey toward becoming P-12 school leaders as new recruits of the Principal Corps.

An elite program for aspiring school administrators, all recruits were nominated by their district superintendents and will spend the next 13 months completing the rigorous program involving coursework at the UM School of Education and two full-time internships supervised by accomplished school leaders. The sixth cohort is the largest class to date, growing from 12 recruits last year.

“This program is the beginning of a new professional life for educators,” said Tom Burnham, interim director of the Principal Corps and former state superintendent of education. “Good leaders must see farther down the road than everyone else, and more importantly, not be afraid to make the hard decisions needed to improve schools.”

Only teachers with a demonstrated passion and potential for leadership are admitted into the program. For the second consecutive year, the Principal Corps has attracted educators from north, central and south Mississippi, showing continued growth and influence. From its start in 2009 to 2012, the program’s reach was primarily in north Mississippi.

The group includes: Joshua Lindsey of the Hancock County School District, Teresa McLeod of Covington County Schools, Clay Garner of the Rankin County School District, Bryan Giles of the Petal School District, Candace Henderson of the Lamar County School District, John Howard of the Coahoma County School District, Wendi Husley of the Gulfport School District, Shamekia Issac of the Natchez-Adams School District, Kristen Langerman of the Rankin County School District, Angela Lowery of the South Pike School District, Danielle Miller of the Ocean Springs School District, Mary Moak of the Petal School District, Tina Temple Moore of the South Panola School District, Carol Davis Smith of the DeSoto County School District, Carrie Speck of the DeSoto County School District, Marcus Stewart of the Holmes County School District, Eric Sumrall of Jackson Public Schools and Trena Warren of the Claiborne County School District.

The program has a close-to-perfect success rate in landing its graduates job offers as principals, assistant principals or educational leaders. All graduates make a five-year commitment to stay in Mississippi education and receive a $10,000 bonus upon signing a contract as a principal or assistant principal and beginning work. With 49 graduates, the ranks of Principal Corps alumni could grow to 67 next year.

“I’ve always enjoyed working with students and helping them realize and achieve their goals,” said Lindsey, a UM alumnus and the 2013 Mississippi Teacher of the Year. “My hope is that as an administrator, I will be able to transfer that ability into leading teachers to reach more students, resulting in an exponential growth in success.”

Above all, the Principal Corps focuses on learning through experience. During full-time internships, recruits work closely with mentor administrators, often acting as the de facto assistant principal at his or her placement site. Many recruits receive job offers from one of their internship sites before graduation.

As one of the most valuable educational leadership scholarships ever offered in Mississippi, the program includes full tuition, books and fees, as well as housing and living expenses while completing coursework at UM. The Principal Corps also provides funding to help recruits maintain their salary during their time in the program.

“For me, this is an amazing opportunity to become an administrator,” McLeod said. “I want to be involved in transforming schools and transforming the lives of students to be successful in a globally competitive environment. I believe the sky is the limit.”

This summer, 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 during the academic year. All students return for final coursework next June and finish the requirements for either a master’s or specialist degree in educational leadership.

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 Mississippi and increase its cohort size.

“When you leave our program, you become part of a new generation of leaders charged with improving schools,” Burnham explained. “If you graduate and you haven’t changed the way you make decisions, then we have not succeeded. Our goal is that whenever people see outstanding new principals in Mississippi, they say ‘he or she must be a graduate of the Principal Corps.’”

UM Launches Early Childhood Education Curriculum

Program leads to state license endorsement for pre-K teachers

Dr. Lynn Darling visited Willie Price Daycare recently.  Dr. Darling has received a regional award for her work setting early childhood curricula standards for the entire state.

Dr. Lynn Darling is one of three expert early childhood education faculty members hired at UM in 2013 to develop new curricula to prepare pre-K teachers.

OXFORD, Miss. – To meet the demand for qualified pre-K teachers across the state, a new curriculum offered by the University of Mississippi allows students to specialize in early childhood education and obtain a license endorsement in the field from the Mississippi Department of Education.

The curriculum, which is offered online this summer, will be provided in a traditional format during the 2014-2015 academic year and is designed to be completed over two semesters as part of the School of Education’s elementary education program. Working educators can also complete the program to obtain an endorsement from MDE.

“One problem we’re facing in Mississippi is that many teachers haven’t had the specialized training to teach pre-K,” said Burhanettin Keskin, UM associate professor and coordinator of early childhood education. “Some people believe that teaching early childhood is just kindergarten and first grade watered down, but it’s a completely different and very important field.”

According to the National Institute for Early Education Research, many studies show quality preschool programs can produce long-term gains in academic achievement, including gains in reading and mathematics, and can support positive social-emotional development. Studies also show an estimated 7-to-1 return on investment dollars in public pre-K education in the form of long-term cost savings.

Mississippi does not support universal pre-K education in public schools and there is no standard assessment for students entering kindergarten.

The Ole Miss curriculum was designed by three expert early childhood education faculty hired at the university last year after the School of Education received a $1.1 million grant from the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation in Jackson to build the program. UM’s early childhood faculty includes Keskin, as well as assistant professors Beverly Alford and Lynn Darling.

“Our faculty have worked tirelessly to create a valuable program leading to a state-issued endorsement in early childhood education,” said Susan McClelland, UM chair of teacher education. “Elementary education is our largest program, and our hope is we can drastically increase the number of new teachers with specialized training in early childhood education who can make an impact in schools across the state.”

The curriculum comprises four courses (12 credits):

Early Childhood Methods, an introduction to methods and theories in pre-k instruction and early learning.

Child Development, an examination of cognitive, affective, psychomotor and social development requiring at least 10 hours of specialized field experience.

Special Education for Early Childhood Development, an examination of early intervention for young children with delays, disabilities or exceptionalities.

Early Language and Literacy, an exploration of the function of play in early childhood learning as it relates to cognitive, socio-emotional and physical development.

The new undergraduate emphasis is the first of what will be two major pushes to expand early childhood education programs at UM. In 2015, Ole Miss plans to also offer an online master’s degree in the field for educators and researchers who seek advanced specialization in early childhood learning.

McClelland Named Chair of Teacher Education at UM

Educational leadership expert to continue role on permanent basis

After serving more than two years in an interim capacity, Susan McClelland will has been named chair of teacher education at UM.

After serving more than two years in an interim capacity, Susan McClelland will has been named chair of teacher education at UM.

OXFORD, Miss. – After serving more than two years as interim chair, Susan S. McClelland has been selected to serve as chair of the University of Mississippi Department of Teacher Education.

McClelland’s appointment begins July 1 and marks her third major move at UM. With more than 1,000 students and more than 40 full-time faculty in the areas of elementary, literacy, secondary, special and early childhood education, the department is one of the university’s largest individual academic units.

“As the flagship university in Mississippi, it’s our job to ensure we are preparing pre-service teachers to meet the demands of educating the children in our state,” said McClelland, who also serves as an associate professor of educational leadership. “In Mississippi, we face challenges like low literacy rates and high poverty rates and we must constantly look at how we can improve our programs to better prepare our pre-service teachers to be effective, innovative educators.”

During McClelland’s tenure as interim chair, the department has grown to include new programs such as the Mississippi Excellence in Teaching Program, an all-inclusive four-year scholarship and teacher preparation program for top-performing students. The program has an average incoming ACT score of 29.

The department also offers new coursework in early childhood education as well as a new doctorate in special education. An emphasis in health and physical activity for elementary education majors is also in the planning stages. McClelland’s vision for the department includes a two-year plan to revise the unit’s undergraduate curriculum and a reevaluation of its master’s and doctoral programs.

“Dr. McClelland is an excellent educational leader who has been instrumental in the development of new programs at the School of Education,” said David Rock, UM education dean. “She has both the experience and the understanding of educational issues in our state to help us prepare highly effective educators. I am excited to have Dr. McClelland continue her leadership and work as the chair of teacher education at Ole Miss.”

Before serving as chair, McClelland was the founding director of the Principal Corps, a highly selective educational leadership program with a 99 percent success rate in placing outstanding Mississippi educators into K-12 leadership positions. She was hired at UM in 2005 as an assistant professor of educational leadership to design the program after the School of Education received a $2 million startup grant from the Jim and Donna Barksdale Foundation.

A 21-year veteran of public K-12 education in Mississippi, McClelland has served in a variety of educational leadership positions in north Mississippi, including stints as assistant superintendent of the New Albany School District, principal of New Albany High School and vice principal of Oxford High School. She holds a doctorate and master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from UM, as well as a bachelor’s degree in English education from Blue Mountain College.

“Our department should continue to be a community that both challenges and provides resources for faculty and students,” McClelland said. “The School of Education’s teacher education program should be a place where faculty feel supported and students go on to become influential educators and leaders who transform education in Mississippi and beyond.”

Peralta Named Mississippi’s First Knowles Teaching Fellow

STEM teaching fellowship to provide up to $175,000 for Ole Miss alumna


Mooreville native Jessica Peralta is the first Mississippian to receive a highly competitive Knowles Science Teaching Foundation fellowship worth $175,000 over five years.

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi graduate student Jessica Fancher Peralta doesn’t begin her first year of teaching until this fall, but she has already landed a sizable bonus. The Mooreville native is the first Mississippian to receive a Knowles Science Teaching Foundation Fellowship worth $175,000.

A five-year fellowship for early-career STEM teachers across the country, the program will offer financial support to assist Peralta with a variety of grants for classroom materials, professional development, networking opportunities, travel to national conferences and more.

“The thing I like most about the fellowship is the community of educators all across the country,” said Peralta, who will begin teaching mathematics at Oxford High School in August. “It’s a network of current fellows and past fellows. I will be able to connect with teachers all around the country to share experiences and seek out ideas.”

Founded in 2002, KSTF teaching fellowships are designed to attract and retain high school STEM teachers who demonstrate a high level of content knowledge, effective teaching methods and show potential to become an influential teacher leader who will make a career of teaching.

According to KSTF data, more than half of all U.S. STEM teachers have less than five years’ experience in teaching. The fellowship program, which has a 95 percent retention rate with its fellows, includes more than 250 fellows in 42 states across the nation.

“Jessica exhibits all of the things you want from a teacher leader,” said Allan Bellman, associate professor of mathematics education and the faculty member who encouraged Peralta to apply. “Teachers who receive Knowles Fellowships are exceptional educators. They have strong promise of staying in education and spreading a wide influence.”

Three times a year, KTSF fellows gather at conferences for professional development – with their cohort in the fall and spring and with all current fellows in the summer. Over five years, fellows advance through three phases of development focusing on different amounts of content knowledge, teaching practice and leadership qualities.

Upon finishing the program, fellows are dubbed Senior Fellows and are provided support to continue involvement in the program by leading professional development sessions. They also can apply for select grants and can receive up to $2,000 in support to pursue national board certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

Peralta received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics education from the UM School of Education in 2013 and is a graduate research fellow at the UM Center for Mathematics and Science Education. She plans to finish a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction part-time over the next few years.

“There can be a negative association to studying math, and I want to help change that,” Peralta said. “Mathematics should be taught as problem-solving, critical thinking and logical reasoning. I think that helping students develop those things is going to help them in anything that they do.”

‘Lazy Daisy, Cranky Frankie’ Wins CELI Read Aloud Book Award

Mississippi teachers help UM literacy center award children's book honor

Preschool teacher Sarah Siebert reads "Lazy Daisy, Cranky Frankie" to children at UM's Willie Price Lab School.

Preschool teacher Sarah Siebert reads “Lazy Daisy, Cranky Frankie” to children at UM’s Willie Price Lab School.

OXFORD, Miss. – A children’s tale about lazy cows, dancing chickens and cranky canines is the winner of the 2014 Read Aloud Book Award given annually by the University of Mississippi’s Center for Excellence in Literacy Instruction.

The annual award from CELI, which offers professional development and curriculum support in literacy for Mississippi teachers, was given to Australian writer Mary Ellen Jordan and illustrator Andrew Weldon, who co-created “Lazy Daisy, Cranky Frankie” (Albert Whitman & Co., 2013), a rhyme-saturated book about farm animals.

“Each of our committee members said their children kept asking to read ‘Lazy, Daisy, Cranky Frankie’ over and over again,” said CELI literacy specialist Angie Caldwell. “We’ve had teachers from pre-school to third grade read this book to their students and all found it to be a great resource for their classrooms.”

This year’s winner was selected from 45 submitted titles. Since January, a group of nine north Mississippi literacy teachers have read submitted books to young children and recorded their reactions using a rubric designed by CELI.

The plot of the “Lazy Daisy, Cranky Frankie” outlines the day-to-day life of farm animals whose personalities break away from social norms – such as a pig named Nancy, who dislikes mud because she’s just too fancy.

“This book is great to teach lessons about farming or about diversity,” said Kim Homan, first-grade teacher at Pontotoc Elementary School in Pontotoc. “The rhyming makes it fun to read aloud, and the different animals provide a way to discuss with children how we all have different personalities and it’s OK to be different.”

Established in 2010, the award is designed to recognize the author and illustrator of books for children ages 3 through 10. The program is partially supported from a grant from the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation. The goal is to promote reading aloud to young children as a way to teach literacy, reinforce a love of reading and help children understand the deeper meaning behind books. Winning books receive the right to be published with CELI’s Read Aloud award seal on the cover.

Participating teachers were asked to evaluate how well the texts stretch children’s imaginations, capture interest and utilize a rich vocabulary. Upon turning in results, a committee of UM faculty, staff and literacy teachers selected the winner. All books are later donated to teachers at critical-needs elementary schools in north Mississippi.

“My students loved this book!” said Katie Murphy, a first-grade teacher at Green Hill Elementary School in Sardis. “They enjoy the rhyming patterns, and they enjoy predicting what silly thing might be on the next page. The illustrations also fit the story so well and made reading something to look forward to.”

UM Faculty, Staff and Students Give Day of Service at Okolona School

Beautification project provides fresh look for elementary school

UM faculty, staff and students gathered to give Okolona Elementary School a fresh coat of paint on April 12, the final day of National Volunteer Week.

UM faculty, staff and students gathered to give Okolona Elementary School a fresh coat of paint on April 12, the final day of National Volunteer Week.

OXFORD, Miss. – A group of University of Mississippi faculty, staff and students donated their time and talents during a beautification project at Okolona Elementary School on April 12, the last day of National Volunteer Week.

More than 50 volunteers, including local residents and representatives from the UM School of Education, McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement and AmeriCorps Vista program, gathered to give the school’s K-4 building a fresh coat of paint, including two new murals in its main hallway.

“We were excited to receive volunteers from Ole Miss who helped breathe life into our building,” said Dexter Green, superintendent of the Okolona Municipal Separate School District. “Our students came in on Monday morning and were excited to see a nice bright place that’s a beautiful learning environment.”

Okolona, which recently came out of state-run conservatorship in 2013, is among multiple schools where UM’s Center for Excellence in Literacy Instruction provides professional development for elementary teachers. The idea for the project came out of CELI’s work with the school.

“We’re dedicated to helping teachers, children and schools have the best opportunities possible,” said Angela Rutherford, CELI director. “Sometimes that means we help make the learning environment more appealing. We believe every child has the right to an excellent education, and we look forward to our continued support of Okolona Elementary.”

The students who volunteered to paint the murals hail from the student organization Rebel Global Collections. A group of international students, they have painted murals at schools in Clarksdale, Crenshaw, Pontotoc, Lambert and Webb. The group also offers a program to schools called World Passport Day, where UM international students give presentations on their home countries. They plan to give a passport presentation April 25 at Okolona.

McLean Institute program coordinator Ryan Parsons played a key role in recruiting UM students who volunteered for the day of service.

“Our institutional goal is to fight poverty through education in Mississippi,” Parsons said. “This was a good chance for students to support education in a high-needs school district and an opportunity for international students to see more of our state. This kind of service is at the heart of what our institute does.”

METP Fellows Gather for First Cross-Campus Visit at Ole Miss

Scholarship recipients meet former and current UM chancellor, National Teacher of the Year

Fellows from the first class of the Mississippi Excellence in Teaching Program gathered at UM in April where they toured Rowan Oak, the historic home of novelist William Faulkner, among other activities.

Fellows from the first class of the Mississippi Excellence in Teaching Program gathered at UM in April where they toured Rowan Oak, the historic home of novelist William Faulkner, among other activities.

OXFORD, Miss. – More than 30 high-caliber college freshmen with aspirations of becoming influential educators gathered at the University of Mississippi April 14-15 for a cross-campus visit between the UM and Mississippi State chapters of the Mississippi Excellence in Teaching Program, or METP.

Established in January 2013, METP is a joint effort led by Ole Miss and MSU faculty to attract top-performing students into teaching by offering the most valuable education scholarship ever offered in Mississippi, one including four years of full tuition and funding for housing, food, technology, travel, study abroad and more.

Hosted by one of the two universities each semester, cross-campus visits are designed to expose fellows to educational leaders and to help gain a deeper understanding of issues facing educators today. The visits also serve as a way to help build community among students who belong to the joint program.

“Cross-campus visits like these are an integral part of this program,” said Ryan Niemeyer, the Ole Miss METP director. “We were very pleased to receive our fellows and friends from MSU and to continue to work together to bring prestige to the teaching profession and bring lasting change to education in our state.”

To kick off the event April 14, fellows met former UM Chancellor Robert Khayat, who spoke with the group about his career and the correlation between implementing controversial change and making progress as educational leaders. Students also received signed copies of his memoir, “The Education of a Lifetime.”

“As a citizen, I want to thank you all for choosing education as your careers because you are going to make a difference in the lives of others,” Khayat said. “For some people, the perception of Mississippi is often that we’re first on the bad lists and 49th on all of the good lists. But whether it’s obesity or diabetes or being unable to read and write and function in a complex society, the answer is education.”

On April 15, the group met with UM Chancellor Dan Jones and later toured the Center for Mathematics and Science Education and Rowan Oak. They also met both National Teacher of the Year Jeff Charbonneau and Mississippi Teacher of the Year Josh Lindsey, who spoke to teacher candidates and faculty at an event hosted by the UM School of Education.

UM freshman Kaypounyers Maye (right) of Gulfport and MSU freshman Jordan White (left) of Starkville are members of the first class of the Mississippi Excellence in Teaching Program.

UM freshman Kaypounyers Maye (right) of Gulfport and MSU freshman Jordan White (left) of Starkville are members of the first class of the Mississippi Excellence in Teaching Program.

“Teachers are leaders; never stray away from remembering that,” Charbonneau told the group. “You will not be able to reach every child you teach, but it’s your job to try every single day. We have to teach every child what it means to self-sufficient in order to be group-sufficient. We have to teach them to be good citizens and learn what it means to put time and effort into their work.”

Admitted in August, UM’s first class of 15 freshmen has a combined average ACT score of 28.5 and an average GPA of 4.0. The class is expected to graduate in May 2017, when each METP graduate will begin teaching in a Mississippi public school.

The service-based scholarship requires a five-year commitment to work in public education in Mississippi. The focus of the program is to train top-performing students to become secondary mathematics and English teachers to meet the growing demand in these fields due to the implementation of Common Core State Standards.

“Being in the first class of this program means we’re helping pave the way for the next group who will follow us,” said Shelby Knighten, a METP fellow at the university from Gautier. “Each time everyone meets, there’s a feeling like we’re gaining knowledge and making connections with people who have made an important impact in education at a variety of levels.”

UM is in the process of finalizing its second cohort of the program.

World Class Teaching Program Leads Nation in National Board Prep

North Mississippi teachers in UM program make up largest group seeking national board certification

Julie Gatlin, a Lafayette Lower Elementary School teacher and national board candidate, joined the World Class Teaching Program in August and hopes to pass her boards by the end of June.

Julie Gatlin, a Lafayette Lower Elementary School teacher and national board candidate, joined the World Class Teaching Program in August and hopes to pass her boards by the end of June.

OXFORD, Miss. – With a record group of 409 K-12 teachers from north Mississippi, the University of Mississippi chapter of the World Class Teaching Program has become the largest recruitment site for national board certification in the nation.

A continuing education program, the WCTP is designed for educators who seek to become National Board Certified Teachers, or NBCTs, by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, known as NBPTS, in Arlington, Va. The program is housed within the UM School of Education.

The program prepares teachers to pass a series of assessments and a portfolio review to earn the credential and a lucrative pay raise – the Mississippi Legislature funds an annual $6,000 salary raise for all K-12 teachers who earn and maintain the certification. UM’s chapter oversees sites operating in Batesville, Clarksdale, Fulton, Senatobia, Southaven, Indianola, Madison, Oxford and Tupelo.

“In the past year, we’ve concentrated on implementing our program within our partner school districts,” said WCTP coordinator Jackie Parker, who has run the program at UM since 2002 and was the 2001 Mississippi Teacher of the Year. “Our sites are being run in classrooms by mentors who already hold their NBCTs. We want the program to be imbedded in the culture of the schools.”

National board certification is a mark of distinction among teachers and research suggests that educators who complete the process produce better results. A Harvard University study found in 2012 that over the course of a school year, students of NBCTs gained the equivalent of two months more instruction in mathematics and one month more instruction in English than students of non-board certified teachers.

According to NBPTS data, the national first-time passage rate for teachers taking national boards is nearly 30 percent. Ole Miss WCTP candidates have a first-time passage rate of more than 50 percent, Parker said.

“The University of Mississippi has done a tremendous job with recruitment in becoming the largest site for teachers pursuing national board certification,” said Michelle Accardi, director of state policy for the NBPTS. “I wish every state would look at what Mississippi is doing with the World Class Teaching Program. If universities across the nation would support national board certification, it would be a better world for teachers and students.”

Throughout the year, Parker and mentors within the WCTP operate twice-monthly workshops or individual meetings for teachers to help prepare them to pass assessments in their subject area, pedagogy, classroom management and more. Within the assessments, teachers must create videos of themselves teaching in the classroom and prepare documents assessing their teaching abilities. Teachers must have at least three years of full-time experience to apply for the certification.

“I feel like this has made me such a better teacher,” said Brittany Furr, an NBCT candidate and sixth-grade language arts teacher at Madison Middle School. “The national boards have taught me how to teach using a variety of formats such as an article, story or video so I can use all these different tools to teach in a variety styles.”

The WCTP program at UM is one of five chapters of in the state. Other chapters are housed at Delta State University, Jackson State University, Mississippi State University and the University of Southern Mississippi.

Since August, all five chapters have worked together on a grant projected funded with $300,000 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and additional funding from the state Legislature to provide specialized training for both pre-service teachers and early-career teachers interested in national board certification. Mentor NBCTs are meeting with these educators twice a month at 10 sites across the state. The program is funded to continue through 2016.

NBPTS is redesigning the structure of the national board process to implement new research and make the process more accessible to working teachers, Accardi said . The redesign will be complete by 2017.

“I wanted to do this because I knew it would be challenging,” said Myra Cox, an information and communication technology teacher at Tupelo Middle School who has been working toward her NBCT certification since September. “The process forces you to really analyze yourself as a teacher and provides valuable information for me to bring back to the classroom and my students.”

National Teacher of the Year Jeff Charbonneau to Visit UM

Expert science teacher from Washington to discuss effective teaching


Jeffery Charbonneau

OXFORD, Miss. – Jeffrey Charbonneau, the 2013 National Teacher of the Year, will visit the University of Mississippi Wednesday (April 15) to address Ole Miss teacher candidates and faculty members on the importance of effective teaching.

A science teacher at Zilliah High School in Zilliah, Wash., Charbonneau was appointed to his position by President Barack Obama on April 23, 2013, after being named Washington Teacher of the Year. He has spent the past year touring the country, sharing his experiences and personal philosophies on teaching with educators and students from a variety of backgrounds.

Charbonneau will lead a forum with UM student teachers at 11 a.m. at the Jackson Avenue Center. Mississippi Teacher of the Year and UM alumnus Josh Lindsey, an English teacher from Hancock High School, will give opening remarks at the event. An open session for students, educators and UM faculty and staff will follow at 2 p.m.

On Wednesday (April 16), Charbonneau will visit students and faculty at the UM DeSoto Center.

The National Teacher of the Year visit to UM has been a tradition at the School of Education since 2011 to support a goal of exposing aspiring teachers to innovative and successful educators from different parts of the country. This year, freshmen fellows from both the UM and Mississippi State University chapters of the Mississippi Excellence in Teaching Program will attend the event.

“Our student teachers will be leading their own classrooms in the near future, and this offers them the chance to meet and interact with one of the best teachers in the nation,” said David Rock, UM education school dean. “This is an incredible opportunity for our candidates and educators across the region.”

Charbonneau teaches high school-level science, including chemistry, engineering and physics. During his 12 years at Zilliah High School, he has increased participation in the sciences among students,  resulting in a 20 percent increase in available courses, including 24 courses offered with college credit. Since 2008, he has directed a free high school robotics challenge, which has exposed more than 1,000 Washington state children to a variety of STEM-based skills and principles.

Charbonneau is a graduate of Central Washington University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in biology with honors and a master’s degree in teaching. He also holds a national board certificate in Adolescence and Young Adult Sciences from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

The National Teacher of the Year Program started in 1952 and is a national honors program focusing public attention on teaching excellence. Each year, the national teacher is chosen from among state teachers of the year by a selection committee representing the major national education organizations, and is introduced by the president, according to the Council of Chief State School Officers.

For more information about the National Teacher of the Year program, visit