Mississippi Excellence in Teaching Program Admits 29 UM Freshmen

Unique scholarship funding extended for five more years, draws students from nine states

METP’s fifth cohort hails from nine states and has an ACT average of 29.7. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The fifth cohort of the Mississippi Excellence in Teaching Program at the University of Mississippi consists of 29 outstanding freshmen from nine states. With an average ACT score of 29.7, the group sets a high standard for the elite scholarship.

The program, originally designed for secondary education majors, expanded to include special education and elementary education last year following a $28 million investment from the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation in Jackson, which agreed to fund the teaching scholarship for five more years.

“METP is one of a kind,” said Ryan Niemeyer, METP director. “There are similar programs, but there’s not really another one in the country that is on this level that receives funding from a private foundation. METP focuses on a broader picture and preparing high-quality students to teach our state.”

The freshman recently attended the program’s orientation in the Lyceum, where they met faculty and administrators. Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter and David Rock, Ole Miss education dean, provided advice and encouragement during their prepared remarks.

The new class brings the METP scholarship recipients to 104, with the first cohort graduating last May.

The new cohort includes six secondary education math majors, 12 secondary education English majors, three secondary education science majors, five elementary education majors and three special education majors.

The incoming freshmen are: Eleanor Atkinson of Memphis, Tennessee; Ally Blomberg of Belleville, Illinois; Kaylynn Buskirk of Brandon; Brady Cairns of Lake in the Hills, Illinois; Zady Carden of Chickamauga, Georgia; Christian Clark of Collierville, Tennessee; Sa’mya Clayton of Oxford; Lauren Colliau of Austin, Texas; Dylan Dowty of Booneville; Hannah Farnlacher of Birmingham, Alabama; Olivia Flowers of Scottsboro, Alabama; Hunter Hardy of Madison; Hali-Ana Harvey of Waynesboro; Alyssa Hetterich of Hamilton, Ohio; Virgina James of Lexington, Kentucky; Rebecca Junkin of Summit; Mackenzie Ladewig of Horn Lake; Levi Manos of Senatobia; Kennedy Moore of Purvis; Jessie Norris of Grady, Alabama; Willow Olier of Pascagoula; Reann Parker of Gulfport; Madeleine Porter of Jackson; Chyna Quarles of Oxford; Bonnie Smith of Florence, Alabama; Cory Tune of Chester, New Jersey; Mary Frances Ward of Jasper, Alabama; Brianna Whiteside of Senatobia and Hanna Wilson of Laurel.

Established in 2012 with nearly $13 million from the Hearin Foundation, the METP scholarship covers up to four years of tuition, housing and living expenses, study abroad and more.

The program is designed to help stimulate Mississippi’s economy by recruiting top-performing students into Mississippi’s education workforce.

After graduation, METP fellows must teach in a public school in Mississippi for five years immediately after graduation. However, this can be postponed for up to three years if graduates wish to pursue a master’s degree.

The program also includes a study abroad trip. Last summer, students visited Canada to study education outside the United States. Rising juniors also have an opportunity to study American education from a policy perspective in Washington, D.C.

“Not only does METP help me financially, but it also provides me with a unique opportunity during my time in college to learn from the best to become a successful teacher,” said Farnlacher, an elementary education major.

“Knowing that I will be entering the field of teaching with all that knowledge and experience I can possibly receive will really be beneficial and give me the confidence I might not have otherwise.”

For more information on programs in the School of Education, go to http://education.olemiss.edu/.

About Kathleen Murphy