Southern Miss and MGCCC partner to combat teacher shortage

courtesy photo

courtesy photo

Southern Miss and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College partnered to help combat the teacher shortage in Mississippi by creating a new pathway for high school students looking to teach.

“Everybody here knows that the state of Mississippi is in the midst of a teacher shortage,” Southern Miss president Rodney Bennett, Ph.D., said. “This new pathway will produce more highly qualified teachers for our state.”

MGCCC president Mary S. Graham, Ph.D., said this shortage of teachers is what started the conversation.

“Over the last five years, there’s been a 40 percent decrease in the number of education majors pursuing teacher’s certificates and teaching degrees,” Graham said.

Bennett said this new pathway will be more efficient in getting prospective teachers into class quicker. The program will be for hand-picked students at the high school junior and senior levels that want to work in elementary education and special education.

“Aptly named ‘Teacher’s College’ in reference to our Normal School heritage, this innovative program was designed to serve MGCCC collegiate academy students who want to become licensed teachers,” dean of the College of Health Trenton E. Gould, Ph.D., said.

These juniors and seniors will be dual-enrolled in their high school classes while taking courses at MGCCC to get their Associate’s. Once they finish the track on the coast, they will transfer to Southern Miss. Students that complete the track within two years will be eligible for the same licensure that five-year students complete.

According to Graham, MGCCC provides a pipeline of students for Southern Miss with over 70 percent of their graduates transferring to Southern Miss.

Both Bennett and Graham said they believe that their relationship together sets a powerful example for other colleges not just around Mississippi but also the entire country.

“We are a model of working together here in the state of Mississippi that many other states revel,” Institute of Higher Learning commissioner Alfred Rankins, Jr., Ph.D., said.

Rankins thanked the leaders of Southern Miss and MGCCC for stepping up and finding a creative way to solve Mississippi’s teacher issue.

“What a great day today is on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi,” Rankins said. “This agreement speaks to the core of what state colleges and universities are all about.”

Rankins said he looked forward to more opportunities like this agreement across the state in the future.

“The University of Southern Mississippi remains committed to meeting the needs of our state by providing high-quality education and research to all students,” Bennett said. “I cannot be more excited to collaborate with our colleagues and alumni from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.”

photo courtesy MGCCC on Twitter