OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi educational leadership professor Ryan Niemeyer has been selected to lead the UM chapter of the Mississippi Excellence in Teaching Program, a joint venture with Mississippi State University to award full scholarships to top-performing students who want to become teachers.
The appointment marks the third major move at UM for Niemeyer, who serves as co-director of the Mississippi Teacher Corps and previously served as director of the university’s Grenada Center.
“I’m a Mississippi native and heavily invested in public education in this state,” said Niemeyer, a Lumberton native. “This is a wonderful opportunity to bring prestige to teaching. Right now, we’re moving quickly to recruit top students into our first cohort.”
Established in January with a $12.95 million grant from the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation in Jackson, the program offers one of the most valuable scholarships in the nation and provides full tuition and a variety of other benefits. All graduates of the program make a five-year commitment to teach in a Mississippi public school after graduation.
“Dr. Niemeyer’s experience in leadership and understanding of education in our state makes him an ideal choice,” said UM education Dean David Rock. “He’s proven that he can lead dynamic programs and that he understands the importance of maintaining high standards for our programs.”
Niemeyer is recruiting students for the Ole Miss chapter of the program and collaborating with MSU leaders to establish an administrative structure for the program.
Both campuses will begin reviewing applications March 15. Ideal applicants are incoming freshmen with ACT scores of 28 and above and a high school GPA of 3.5 or above.
The program’s initial focus is to produce new English and mathematics teachers in Mississippi to help meet the demands of the state’s new Common Core standards implemented last year. Each university will accept 20 fellows – 10 in math and 10 in English – and provide full scholarships, room and board, a tablet computer, professional development opportunities and a study abroad experience worth up to $6,000.
Niemeyer received his doctorate in educational leadership from UM in 2008 and holds a master’s degree in educational administration and a bachelor’s degree in sports administration from the University of Southern Mississippi. Before coming to UM, he held K-12 leadership positions in schools around the state and served nearly 15 years in the Mississippi Army National Guard, where he achieved the rank of captain.
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