UM Faculty Help Mississippi Students ‘Fuel to Learn’

Pilot curriculum integrates nutrition knowledge into math and language arts

Thirteen fourth-grade teachers from north Mississippi are taking part in UM’s Fuel to Learn pilot program, which integrates nutrition with mathematics and English language arts. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – Several north Mississippi fourth-grade teachers are taking part in a University of Mississippi study that aims to help children learn more about nutrition while also learning mathematics and English language arts.

Called “Fuel to Learn,” the project is funded by a grant from the Mississippi Center for Obesity Research at the UM Medical Center in Jackson and led by Ole Miss faculty, including Melinda Valliant and Kathy Knight of the School of Applied Sciences, and Alicia Stapp of the School of Education.

“The vision is that this will become a statewide curriculum,” said Stapp, an assistant professor of health and physical education. “We are starting this very, very small, which is how we want to start, but we hope to have a regional presence and then a statewide presence.

“We see no reason why there can’t be a curriculum for the whole state.”

Thirteen teachers are participating in the pilot program. In each lesson, students will learn a math or English language arts skill while also learning about healthy eating. For example, one lesson requires students to measure the grams of sugar in multiple beverages and then break that number down into milligrams.

The lessons are centered on five “key messages”: hydration, portion size, fruits and vegetables, dairy, and healthy snacks.

“These five key messages are the big things that can have a snowball effect and make a big difference,” said Valliant, an associate professor of nutrition. “This is an outstanding curriculum, and I think it will really help children have a better understanding of what a healthy diet looks like.”

During a meeting July 24 at Ole Miss, Knight, Stapp, Valliant and recent UM graduate Sarah Howell trained the teachers – who hail from Myrtle, New Albany and Potts Camp – to implement the curriculum, which provides ready-to-go lesson plans.

The pilot curriculum includes 10 lessons in math and 10 in English language arts. Each teacher received a kit of teaching materials for their classrooms, as well.

Each lesson is aligned with Mississippi College and Career Readiness Standards as well as learning objectives in individual subject areas. Developers hope that besides helping students learn, an increased literacy in nutrition will improve long-term educational outcomes.

“The relationship between academic performance and diet cannot be understated,” said Knight, an associate professor of nutrition. “Most of the beginning research in this area started in the ’60s and ’70s and showed that children who were malnourished did not learn as well (as children who were).”

During the event, Knight also explained that research concerning school breakfast programs show that children who eat full breakfasts perform better academically.

From September through January, the 13 teachers will implement the pilot with a pacing guide that requires them to use a minimum of two lesson plans per month in their classrooms and upload their results to an online portal.

“I think it’s great because it fits into the curriculum that I already teach and goes right along with state assessment,” said Kristi Cox of Myrtle Attendance Center.

Between lessons, the teachers took “Brain Breaks,” where they got to know one other better and participated in active movement exercises, which they can use in their own classrooms. The teachers also got a tour of the Olivia and Archie Manning Athletics Performance Center.

“They are not just giving us the lesson plans; they are teaching us how to integrate these lessons into what we are already doing,” said Farrah Speck of New Albany Middle School. “This is really valuable to me as a teacher.”

Willie Price Lab School Earns National Accreditation

UM pre-K facility recognized among best in the nation

Parents and children work together at Willie Price’s Learning Garden. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – Willie Price Lab School at the University of Mississippi has been accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, a prestigious designation that recognizes top standards in early childhood education.

To earn NAEYC accreditation, Willie Price, which serves local 3- and 4-year-old children, went through an extensive self-study and quality-improvement process, followed by an on-site visit by accessors. The renewable accreditation lasts five years.

“Earning this accreditation takes away any blurred lines about what is best for children,” said Sarah Langley, Willie Price director. “When you go through this process, and you have to do everything the right way, it means that you are doing what’s best for children at the very highest level.”

Less than 10 percent of programs nationwide  – roughly 7,000 institutions – hold this accreditation, according NAEYC data. In Mississippi, 24 programs are accredited.

To earn the accreditation, schools must meet 10 research-based standards, which range from instructional techniques to safety, nutrition, staffing and community engagement. Throughout the process, Willie Price staff worked to meet and document hundreds of criteria within these standards and received support from the university’s Graduate Center for the Study of Early Learning to work with an accreditation consultant.

“We literally had to break down our school into pieces and build it back stronger,” said Alyce Krouse, Willie Price assistant director. “We sometimes get referred to as a ‘day care,’ but we are so much more than that. We are an accredited school for young children.”

One result from this process is that Willie Price staff began keeping an individual portfolio to assess and document the development of each child. The school serves more than 70 children.

In-depth assessments of children’s work provide not only a window into the developing minds of children, but can help educators and parents identify needs for enrichment or intervention earlier than before.

“There are two monthly samples of work in each portfolio,” Langley explained. “This might include a name-writing sample and an illustration.

Learning centers at Willie Price are aligned with developmental standards. Submitted Photo

“By the end of the year, you can see scribbles start to look like letters and then next thing you know, there are uppercase letters at the front of their names. It’s a nice way to observe the development and celebrate with parents.”

Staff at Willie Price meet with parents at least three times a year to go over children’s portfolios. After leaving Willie Price, portfolios can later be handed off parents and/or a kindergarten program.

As part of the accreditation process, parents from Willie Price also completed surveys and provided feedback to staff on the school’s performance and offerings.

Learning centers at Willie Price also were aligned with best practices for early learning and are put on a rotation throughout classrooms. All lessons taught by Willie Price teachers fit into a strategic curriculum that supports developmental learning standards.

The layout of Willie Price classrooms are designed to promote optimal learning for all children. Instead of providing traditional whole-group activities, classrooms are designed to let children self-select different learning centers.

Research shows this method of teaching young children allows for greater independence and engagement in a structured learning environment.

Willie Price also serves as a learning facility for education majors at the UM School of Education, allowing Ole Miss undergraduates to gain hands-on experience in an accredited school.

“We want our students to go to a school that is accredited to see best practices,” said Kenya Wolff, UM assistant professor of early childhood education. “This allows our students to be able to go out into the world and know the right way to do things.

“We’re confident that we can send students to Willie Price and they will see and learn what’s best for young children.”

Willie Price operates 10 months per year on the Ole Miss campus. For more information about enrollment and the school’s curriculum visit http://willieprice.olemiss.edu/.

Jessica Muñoz Receives Andrew P. Mullins Scholarship

Mississippi Teacher Corps alumna pursues doctorate in Spanish at UM

Andrew P. Mullins Jr. (left) with Jessica Muñoz, who is the recipient of the Andrew P. Mullins Jr. Mississippi Teacher Corps Alumni Scholarship. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – Jessica Muñoz, a 2018 graduate of the University of Mississippi, is the third recipient of the Andrew P. Mullins Jr. Mississippi Teacher Corps Alumni Scholarship.

The award, which is designed to support Teacher Corps alumni who wish to pursue advanced graduate study at UM, will provide $2,000 in financial support for Muñoz, who will begin doctoral studies in Spanish at Ole Miss this fall.

The award was endowed in 2016 by Teacher Corps co-founder Andrew P. Mullins Jr.

“Dr. Mullins has been a really strong influence for me as far as what it means to teach,” said Muñoz, a Grass Valley, California, native. “He’s one of those people I could go to for any problem because he probably can give you advice or the number of someone to call to help.

“I felt like a lucky person to have had him as a teacher and to receive this scholarship now.”

The endowed scholarship is available to Teacher Corps alumni and may be awarded twice to individuals. Recipients may pursue an advanced degree in any field of their choosing on UM’s Oxford campus. The inaugural recipients of the scholarship award were husband-and-wife Derek and Kelly King, who first received the award in 2016.

“I’m glad that Jessica could be the third recipient of this award,” Mullins said. “She was a great teacher and a great student, and this scholarship is designed to help Teacher Corps alumni like her advance their education at the University of Mississippi.”

Throughout her time in the Teacher Corps, Muñoz taught in Panola County, first as a science teacher at North Panola Junior High School and then as a Spanish teacher at South Panola High School.

A graduate of Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, she earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and Spanish before joining the Teacher Corps in 2016, a move that literally took her across the country to north Mississippi, sight unseen.

“I didn’t major in education in college, … ,but I knew that I really liked working with kids,” she said. “The Mississippi Teacher Corps really stood out to me because of its mission, vision and its structure, which gives you intensive training in the summer before beginning teaching in the fall.”

Founded in 1989, the Teacher Corps is an alternate-route teaching program that has placed more than 725 new teachers in critical-needs school districts throughout the state. The program is highly competitive and has attracted recruits from 239 colleges and universities around the country.

All participants receive job placement and two years of funding to earn a Master of Arts in Teaching degree from UM. More than half of its alumni are still in education in some way.

The program is training its 29th cohort at Holly Springs High School, where incoming participants are trained by program alumni before entering the classroom.

Muñoz is working as a teacher this summer as part of UM’s Rebel Quest day camps, which provide summer learning for elementary-aged children. In the fall, she will teach undergraduate Spanish courses at UM as part of her graduate assistantship.

She hopes to finish her doctorate in five years and plans to stay in education in some way following graduation.

“I really enjoy teaching high school,” she said. “I imagine that in at least some capacity I will be back in the secondary education world. I am not sure if that’s tutoring or guest speaking or something else, but I am sure I will be involved.”

14 Educators Join 10th Class of UM Principal Corps

Elite K-12 leadership program attracts teachers from across Mississippi

Fourteen educators from across the state make up the 10th cohort of the Principal Corps. They are (from left) Chanda Jenkins, Suzanne Cain, Kristin Walters, Jamey Germany, Luke Daniels, Liza Hadden, Luke Daniels, Precious Malembeka, Matthew Magee, Megan Duff, Kama Smith, Dana Maharrey, Jamie Tiblier, Miranda Bishop and Katie Gilbert. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – Fourteen educators from across Mississippi make up the 10th cohort of the Principal Corps, the University of Mississippi’s elite program in K-12 educational leadership.

Over the past decade, the program has produced 107 graduates, nearly 90 percent of whom are serving in leadership roles in school districts in Mississippi and beyond.

In June, the group gathered for the first time at UM to begin the 13-month program. The Principal Corps program comprises both graduate course work in educational leadership and two full-time internships during the fall and spring semesters, which allow recruits to gain hands-on leadership experience under the supervision of experienced mentors.

The 10th class of the Principal Corps includes Miranda Bishop of the Jackson County School District, Suzanne Cain of the Newton County School District, Luke Daniels of the Petal School District, Katherine Gilbert of the Pascagoula School District, Megan Duff of the Okolona School District, Jamey Germany of the Lauderdale County School District, Lisa Hadden of the Rankin County School District, Chander Jenkins of the South Pike School District, Matthew Magee of the George County School District, Dana Maharrey and Kama Smith of the Tupelo Public School District, Precious Malembeka of Jackson Public Schools, Jaimie Tiblier of the Biloxi School District and Kristin Walters of the Laurel Public School District.

Many Principal Corps recruits will complete their internships near their home school district. Internship placements are located across the state. During the academic year, Principal Corps participants come to Oxford for course work one week each month.

Smith, a 14-year English teacher at Tupelo High School, was attracted to the Principal Corps after seeing a colleague complete the program last year. She plans to complete her internships in the Tupelo Public School District and hopes to move into an assistant principal position after graduation next summer.

“The Principal Corps experience so far has been both exhausting and rewarding,” Smith said. “I say exhausting because the expectations are high and we are pushed to become better every day. But the reward of gaining so much knowledge from such experienced, intelligent instructors and knowing I will become an effective administrator outweighs the exhaustion.”

Graduates will earn either a Master of Education or Specialist in Education degree in educational leadership from UM. This degree, along with passing the School Leaders Licensure Assessment, will qualify them for a school administrator’s license.

The Principal Corps offers one of the most valuable leadership scholarships in the country. All cohort members receive full tuition, books and housing while at Ole Miss.

Besides earning an advanced degree in educational leadership, graduates receive a $10,000 bonus from the program upon accepting a principal or assistant principal job in a Mississippi public school and beginning work. Each graduate makes a five-year commitment to stay in Mississippi.

Magee, an English teacher from George County’s Star Academy dropout prevention program, also was attracted to the program after seeing a co-worker go through the Principal Corps.

“After learning of the opportunity to complete a yearlong internship, I was hooked,” he said. “I want to move into leadership to reach more students and advance their overall education. I have seen too many children overlooked, and I am ready to make a difference.”

The new cohort members have impressive credentials and diverse educational backgrounds. Many hold advanced degrees, national board certifications and have already taken a leadership role within their schools.

Before being accepted into the program, all recruits must receive an endorsement from their superintendents.

Daniels, a sixth-grade math teacher from Petal, was attracted to the program because it will allow him to complete his internships within his home school district, where he hopes to move into a leadership role after graduation.

“I have seen firsthand the impact of effective school leadership,” he said. “While early in my career I was turned off to the idea of a job in administration because of a perceived lack of direct contact with students, the more I have learned about the actual job of principal, the more I have realized that I was mistaken.

“While a principal is rarely leading a classroom of 25 students in learning, the impact and influence is still there.”

The Principal Corps was established in 2009 with funding from the Jim and Donna Barksdale Foundation. The program is also supported with funding from the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation in Jackson.

Seven Inducted into School of Education Alumni Hall of Fame

Ole Miss graduates honored for teaching, service and leadership

Tom Meredith (left), Sidney Henderson, Deborah McKinney, Kathleen Grigsby, Sylvia Ferguson, Bob Ferguson, Pam Smith and Ellen Shelton. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Education recently inducted seven Mississippians into the fourth class of its Alumni Hall of Fame.

Collectively, this year’s inductees have committed more than 240 years to improving education from preschool through college in Mississippi and across the nation.

The 2018 inductees include Kathleen Grigsby of Jackson, Thomas C. Meredith of Oxford, Ellen Shelton of Oxford, Pamela Smith of Jackson and the late Dorothy Henderson of Oxford. Tupelo residents Bob and Sylvia Ferguson, co-winners of the school’s Outstanding Service Award, were also honored during the ceremony on campus in May.

The School of Education Alumni Advisory Board selected honorees from nominations submitted earlier this year.

“Each of our Hall of Fame recipients is a model for our current students and alumni to emulate,” said David Rock, UM education dean. “With over two centuries of dedicated service among them, they represent the vast impact that educators can make over the course of their careers.”

Grigsby, the youngest person to be inducted into the education school’s Alumni Hall of Fame with 20 years of service, received both her bachelor’s degree in education in 1998 and her master’s degree in 1999 from UM.

She is the principal of Barack Obama IB Elementary School, formerly known as Davis Magnet IB Elementary School in Jackson, Mississippi. The A-rated International Baccalaureate elementary school was the top-ranked elementary school in all of Mississippi in 2017.

“I still can’t articulate how much being inducted into the Hall of Fame means to me,” Grigsby said. “I’m grateful and thankful to everyone who selected me to be honored.”

Grigsby has a track record of transforming low-performing schools. She previously led Marshall Elementary School in Jackson from an F-rated school to a C-rated school in three years as principal.

Meredith, who has served more than 46 years in higher education, earned his doctorate from the School of Education in 1971.

Meredith progressed in roles throughout his career including high school teacher, high school principal, professor, vice chancellor of the University of Mississippi, president of Western Kentucky University, chancellor of the University of Alabama system, chancellor of the University of Georgia system and commissioner of higher education for Mississippi’s eight public universities.

“It’s a great honor,” Meredith said. “It is special to be honored by this school, but I’m more honored to just be recognized by this place because it is so special to me.”

Shelton, who is director of pre-college programs within the UM Division of Outreach and Continuing Education at Ole Miss, received a master’s degree in 1994 and a doctorate in 2000 from the School of Education.

Shelton is administrator of the online University of Mississippi High School, which has grown from 60 to 1,500 students in recent years. She has also served as an instructor at both high school and collegiate levels in past 26 years. In her role at UM, she has also mentored hundreds of K-12 Mississippi teachers through the UM Writing Project.

“I’m overwhelmed by this incredible honor,” Shelton said. “I hope I’m giving back a fraction of what I have been given by the School of Education.”

Smith, a longtime member of UM’s Education Alumni Advisory Board, earned her doctorate in higher education from UM in 2001. In 2004, she led the Mississippi Council on Economic Education as president for six years, increasing funding by more than 400 percent and teacher training by more than 250 percent.

She also served in several roles with the Board of Trustees of the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, including chief public affairs officer.

Her husband, Jerome Smith, was inducted into the charter class of the Alumni Hall of Fame in 2015.

“I’m extremely humbled to be inducted into the Hall of Fame,” Smith said. “I’m so thankful for this award. I hope to continue to do my part for the School of Education.”

Henderson, who died in 2015, is being inducted posthumously by special provision. She was the first full-time African-American to serve as a faculty member in the history of the UM School of Education.

She became a UM faculty member in 1978 and retired in 1998. With 43 years in public education, she began her career as a grade school teacher in Mississippi and Tennessee before settling down in Oxford. Henderson’s family accepted the award at the ceremony on her behalf.

“It is an honor to have my mother inducted into the Hall of Fame,” said Deborah McKinney, Henderson’s daughter. “It’s an accumulation of everything my family has stood for. We’re very thankful and very grateful that she is being honored.”

The Fergusons, who have collectively dedicated more than 66 years to public education as teachers, coaches, principals and superintendents, received the Outstanding Service Award, which is a special recognition allowing UM to honor noneducation alumni.

After retiring in 1997, the couple established the Tri-County Educational Foundation in 2000, which is funded by charitable bingo operations in the northeast corner of the state. The foundation has donated almost $12 million – providing scholarships to 3,000 students at 33 different schools and almost $2 million to 114 Ole Miss students.

“I’m so flattered to be honored with this award, especially considering all of the people we are being honored alongside,” Sylvia Ferguson said.

“In my career, I have always been the one honoring people and acknowledging their success, so this is a little different for me to be the one being honored,” Bob Ferguson said. “We do appreciate the recognition though, even though that’s not what we do it for, but it certainly is appreciated.”

The previous Alumni Hall of Fame inductees include Suzie Adcock, Jahnae Barnett, Cecil Brown, Thomas Burke, Robert Depro, Laura Dunn Jolly, Robert Khayat, Milton Kuykendall, Carole Lynn Meadows, Judith Reynolds, Jean Shaw, Jerome Smith, Cathy Stewart and Theopolis Vinson.

 

 

UM School of Education Honors 2018 Practitioners of Distinction

Four education alumni recognized for providing exemplary service

Patrick Wilcher (left), LaTonya Robinson, Kevin Allemand and Whitman Smith. Submitted Photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Education recently honored four alumni as 2018 Practitioners of Distinction.

This is the second year UM’s education school has recognized Practitioners of Distinction, early-to-mid-career professionals who have demonstrated measurable and positive service in education. The UM Education Alumni Advisory Board selected honorees from nominations submitted earlier this year.

The 2018 honorees are Kevin Allemand, a teacher at Hancock High School in Kiln; LaTonya Robinson, principal of Green Hill Elementary School in Sardis; Whitman Smith, director of admissions at the University of Mississippi in Oxford; and Patrick Wilcher, a mathematics instructor at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in Gulfport.

“We call them the Practitioners of Distinction awards to recognize early-to-mid-career impact performers, providing exemplary service in the field of education,” said David Rock, UM education dean.

Allemand received his bachelor’s degree in education from UM in 2005. He is completing his 13th year at Hancock High School teaching U.S. government, economics, Mississippi studies, world history, geography, ACT preparation and advanced placement U.S. government and politics.

He distinguished himself as an exemplary alumnus by creating an undergraduate-level research seminar on the American civil rights movement and instituting a “Look Around Mississippi” trip for students. The event is a four-day trek across 20 Mississippi towns and cities to see firsthand antebellum, Civil War, civil rights, musical and literary landmarks.

“I come to Ole Miss close to 10 times a year from the Mississippi Gulf Coast,” Allemand said. “It still feels like home every time. Being honored by the School of Education is almost like your family saying you have made them proud.”

Robinson received her bachelor’s degree in education from UM in 1998 and her master’s degree in 1999 and is in UM’s Doctor of Education in educational leadership program. She began as an elementary school teacher early in her career and then advanced to become an award-winning principal at Oxford Elementary School and Della Davidson Elementary School in Oxford.

She was named the district’s Administrator of the Year in 2016, the same year her school was in the No. 1 ranked school district in the state.

In 2017, she began as principal of Green Hill Elementary School in Sardis, a D-rated school that she hopes to transform into a high-performing school through her exemplary leadership skills.

“Being honored by this award has been overwhelming,” Robinson said. “It’s amazing. You don’t really expect to be doing something that other people pay attention to. I have just been doing what is right and doing it for the children. I’m very humbled.”

Smith, UM director of admissions, received his bachelor’s degree in education in 1989 and his master’s degree in higher education in 1994 from UM.

During his tenure, he has led record application, admission and enrollment growth, and conceptualized and implemented the new student convocation at the university.

“I’m humbled and floored and still surprised that I have been honored by this award,” Smith said. “There are so many people that are School of Education alums who have very accomplished careers. It means that somebody feels that I represent the University of Mississippi and the School of Education that other people can look to as an example. It’s a huge deal.”

Wilcher received his bachelor’s degree in 2003 and his master’s degree in 2004 from UM. He has been a mathematics instructor at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College since 2006.

While he was an undergraduate at Ole Miss, the UM faculty named him Outstanding Student in Mathematics Education, and he was later honored as Outstanding Master’s Student in Secondary Education. Wilcher also served as a basketball coach for 10 years, but then decided to devote his career full time to teaching in 2016.

“I’m not sure if there’s anything more special than being honored by your alma mater,” Wilcher said. “It’s very humbling that after 14 years, I still mean something around here – especially in education because we kind of have to be the unsung heroes a lot.”

The School of Education Practitioners of Distinction award was established in 2017. Its charter class included Shelley Clifford of Atlanta, Jessica Ivy of Starkville, Jay Levy of Canton and Wanikka Vance of Chicago.

 

 

‘Grandma’s Tiny House’ Wins 2018 CELI Read Aloud Book Award

Teachers collaborate to pick winner of children's book award

Sarah Siebert reads the 2018 CELI Read Aloud Book, ‘Grandma’s Tiny House,’ to children at Willie Price Lab School at UM. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – “Grandma’s Tiny House,” a children’s book about a colossal family gathering set in a tiny old house, is the 2018 winner of the University of Mississippi’s 2018 CELI Read Aloud Book Award.

Given annually by the UM Center for Excellence in Literacy Instruction, the award honors books written for children ages 3 to 10. Established in 2010, this is the eighth time the award has been given by CELI, a center that provides support for Mississippi reading teachers.

“‘Grandma’s Tiny House’ is a diverse picture book that can be read aloud to children over and over again,” said Angie Caldwell, CELI literacy specialist who supervises the award process. “It’s a book that tells the story of a family celebration.”

Written by JaNay Brown-Wood, an author and educator in Sacramento, California, this year’s winner was selected from numerous titles, which were given to teachers in north Mississippi schools, including UM’s Willie Price Lab School. The finalists for this year’s award were read to more than 100 north Mississippi children this spring.

“This is a wonderful book for children,” said Shelly Embrey, librarian at Senatobia Elementary School. The rhyme and rhythm made it an excellent read-aloud book and the illustrations were inviting to the students and myself.”

Written from the perspective of a child staying with her grandmother on the day of a large family dinner, the book utilizes rhyming and counting to list the numerous friends and family members as they arrive at the little house and what they bring to the potluck-style gathering. As dozens cram into Grandma’s tiny house, the group must become resourceful to host the massive event.

“We loved reading ‘Grandma’s Tiny House’ in our classroom,” said Sarah Siebert, Willie Price teacher. “Any book that you can incorporate more than one subject is great. With this book, we had discussions about numbers and how our families are alike and different. 

“We also discussed why this family might be going to Grandma’s house, so our students were able to make predictions. We were so excited to hear it was the 2018 CELI Read Aloud Book Choice.”

The CELI Read Aloud Book Award 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 may be published with the CELI 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. A committee of UM faculty, staff and literacy teachers considered the results to select the winner.

“Grandma’s Tiny House,” was illustrated by Priscilla Burris and published by Charlesbridge in Watertown, Massachusetts.

UM Introduces Online Graduate Program in Educational Leadership

New curriculum designed for working K-12 teachers

Dennis Bunch coordinates the UM educational leadership program, which has the state’s highest first-time pass rate on the School Leaders Licensure Assessment. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Education is offering a new online graduate program in K-12 educational leadership to offer working teachers throughout Mississippi an opportunity to advance their careers in school leadership.

The online, 18-month program provides teachers a chance to earn either a Master of Education or Specialist in Education degree and will feature a rolling admissions policy, allowing new graduate students to begin their course of study in the fall, spring or summer.

“Ideal candidates would include those teachers with at least three years of classroom experience and the desire to improve education in the state of Mississippi,” said Dennis Bunch, associate professor and coordinator of the program. “The flexibility of the program will allow candidates previously unable to fit the program in to their schedule to enter the program and progress at their pace.”

The school plans to admit 20 new teachers in the program each semester.

“Future K-12 administrators in our state deserve training from highly qualified and experienced educational leaders and professors,” said John Crutchfield, UM assistant professor of educational leadership. “They should also have the chance to network and collaborate with highly impactful peers while completing their degree.

“What we are now doing is adding the ability to access these professors and networks online, regardless of where you live in the state of Mississippi.”

Teachers who graduate from the program and pass the School Leaders Licensure Assessment exam will qualify to apply for an advanced school administrator’s license from the Mississippi Department of Education.

More than 80 percent of graduates from UM’s educational leadership program pass the SLLA exam on the first try, and 98 percent of accepted graduate students finish the program, according to UM data.

The university is keeping its established, face-to-face option in K-12 leadership; however, the expansion into the online market will allow teachers from all corners of the state – and beyond – to enroll in the graduate program.

The 30-credit program is designed to be completed in 18 months. Applicants must hold a current teaching license, have three years of full-time teaching experience and have two letters of recommendation.

Students are required to complete at least two courses per semester throughout the program.

Many Ole Miss educational leadership graduates go directly in to principal or assistant principal positions after graduation. The program places a high priority on accepting teachers who have demonstrated leadership potential and the support of their school administration.

“We want to help the best teachers make that transition into becoming strong school leaders,” said Ryan Niemeyer, chair of the UM Department of Leadership and Counselor Education “Schools play a vital role in the economic development of our state.

“With that in mind, we are developing a program that will help future school leaders make positive changes in their schools no matter where they are.”

For more information about the program, visit http://rebelteacher.com/.

UM Graduate Student Receives Fulbright Award

Higher education major Maria Mulrooney to teach in South Africa

Maria Mulrooney

OXFORD, Miss. – Maria Mulrooney, a University of Mississippi graduate student in higher education, has been selected for the prestigious Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program to serve as an English teaching assistant in South Africa next year.

Mulrooney is among more than 800 students chosen for the program nationwide. The Palm City, Florida, native was selected based on her essay and academic achievements, as well as a record of service and leadership in education.

“I will teach English to either high school or college students for 25 hours a week and help the teachers with instruction and supplemental materials,” she said. “I can also meet with students after class and help them with language development.

“Then, in my spare time I can volunteer through other organizations.”

Mulrooney will learn exactly where she will teach in during a weeklong orientation in June in Washington, D.C. She plans to move to South Africa in January 2019 to begin the yearlong program.

“I’ve worked with Maria in two classes,” said John Holleman, director of graduate studies at the UM School of Education. “I think the class that created her awareness of the Fulbright program was Cultural Context in Education. She contributed a lot to the class. She’s a wonderful student.”

Mulrooney has a lifelong interest in teaching. As an undergraduate at the University of Central Florida, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary education, she taught English as a second language to international students at a local community college.

“It was fun to work with people who were learning English and help them develop language skills,” she said. “So, that made me interested in going abroad, but I knew I wanted to go into higher education, too, so I wanted to get my master’s first.

“The whole time I’ve been attending Ole Miss, I’ve been looking at different teaching abroad programs.”

The Fulbright program was established in 1946 by the U.S. State Department with the intentions of building lasting connections between the people of the United States and other countries. The Fulbright Program has given more than 380,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists and scientists opportunities to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.

Mulrooney plans to teach in K-12 schools in Florida when she returns from South Africa.

“Learning about different cultures and people’s lives is something I love to do,” Mulrooney said. It’s only a year, so I think it’s just the perfect time to learn about a whole new culture that I have never experienced.”

Education Professor Named Presidential Leadership Scholar

Hunter Taylor joins public, private sector professionals in national leadership program

Hunter Taylor

OXFORD, Miss. – Hunter Taylor, an assistant professor in the University of Mississippi School of Educationhas been selected into the newest class of the Presidential Leadership Scholars program, a leadership development program jointly run by the presidential centers of four former U.S. presidents.

Taylor coordinates recruitment for the Mississippi Teacher Corps, an alternate-route teaching program that serves critical-needs classrooms in the state. In February, he joined a cohort of 59 individuals from nonprofit, military and other public and private fields as a member of the program’s fourth class.

PLS serves as a catalyst for a diverse network of leaders brought together to collaborate and make a difference in the world as they learn about leadership through the lens of the presidential experiences of George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Lyndon B. Johnson.

The latest class joins an active network of 181 scholars who are applying lessons learned through the program to make a difference in their communities in the U.S. and around the world.

“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to learn and share ideas with people,” Taylor said. “This is the sort of networking opportunity where you can go and speak with people who are doing great things and figure out how you can pick up those ideas and bring it back to where you are.”

In the program, Taylor will acquire a network of new peers and learn about leadership strategy firsthand from former presidents. As a 2018 scholar, he will also have the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., and several other major U.S. cities over the course of several months. While in the program, scholars also learn from top advisers and aides to former presidents and the leading academics who advised their administrations.

As part of the program, Taylor will design and execute a service project that will benefit the Mississippi Teacher Corps. The alternate route teaching program allows its members to earn a master’s degree over two years through weekend classes.

One idea Taylor is considering is to help grow the program in other areas of the state, including the Jackson area.

“It is a great honor for the School of Education to have Dr. Taylor named as a Presidential Leadership Scholar,” said Susan McClelland, UM chair of teacher education. “As a scholar, he will have the opportunity to develop essential leadership skills in the areas of vision, communication, decision making, influence and strategic partnerships.

“These skills are crucial skills for effective leaders in higher education. Through this prestigious program, Dr. Taylor will have a unique opportunity to learn from some of our nation’s greatest leaders.”

Before joining Ole Miss, Taylor coached basketball at Arkansas State University. He holds a doctorate in education from Baylor University, a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from UM and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Texas.

Presidential Leadership Scholars is a partnership among the presidential centers of George W. Bush, William J. Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Lyndon B. Johnson. To learn more, visit http://www.presidentialleadershipscholars.org. For updates about the Presidential Leadership Scholars, use #PLScholars and follow @PLSprogram on Twitter and Medium.