Education Edge

The official blog of the Ole Miss School of Education

Mississippi Excellence in Teaching Program Admits 29 Freshman

by UM School of Education on August 28, 2017

METP’s fifth cohort hails from nine states and has an ACT average of 29.7.

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, setting 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 will also fund the teaching scholarship for five more years.

“METP is one of a kind,” Ryan Niemeyer, METP director, said. “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 at the Lyceum, where they met faculty and administrators. UM Education Dean David Rock and UM Chancellor Jeffrey S. Vitter provided students advice and encouragement through their speeches.

The new class of METP  brings the 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, 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.

METP students begin training in classrooms immediately.

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

“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 UM School of Education, go to


By Kathleen Murphy

UM Creates New Department of Higher Education

by UM School of Education on

Left to right: Phillis George, Whitney Webb, Brandi Hephner LaBanc, John Holleman, Amy Wells Dolan, K.B. Melear, Neal Hutchens and George McClellan.

OXFORD, Miss.—The University of Mississippi School of Education is home to a new Department of Higher Education, with legal scholar Neal Hutchens as its interim chair.

The new department, which has eight full-time faculty members, several affiliate faculty throughout the university and more than 200 graduate students, was previously part of the UM Department of Leadership and Counselor Education and will now function as an independent unit within the School of Education.

“To be part of creating a new department is a rare and unique opportunity,” said Hutchens, interim chair and professor. “We have built a vibrant and expanding team of higher education faculty and students and this department allows us to be a visible part of the university community and establish an identity in terms of how we serve the university, the state and beyond.”

The creation of a new department at the School of Education follows the recent growth of new online and hybrid degree programs designed for working higher education practitioners.

Currently, the department offers four graduate programs including online and traditional master’s degrees in higher education/student personnel, as well as Ph.D. and a Hybrid Ed.D., which is a professional doctorate that combines online and face-to-face learning for higher education professionals.

“We are extremely excited to launch our new Department of Higher Education,” said David Rock, UM education dean. “The growth of our new professional doctorate and master’s degrees for working professionals supports the need for this new organizational unit. We are also creating new possibilities for undergraduate courses in the higher education arena that may even expand into a minor in Higher Education for the entire campus.”

The department serves as the academic unit overseeing multiple undergraduate courses including EDHE 105, a course taken by hundreds of UM undergraduates each year and is a collaboration with UM’s Division of Student Affairs.

As interim chair, Hutchens hopes to launch an undergraduate minor in higher education, strengthen and build new partnerships with units throughout the university and to implement an outreach and engagement plan to highlight the accomplishments of faculty, students and alumni.

An expert in first amendment and free speech issues, Hutchens joined UM in 2016 after serving as the professor in charge of higher education at The Pennsylvania State University. He has also held faculty positions at the University of Kentucky and Barry University in Orlando, Florida. Hutchens holds a Ph.D. in higher education policy from the University of Maryland, a law degree from the University of Alabama, a master’s degree from Auburn University Montgomery and a bachelor’s degree from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama.

“We have a really strong collection of individuals among our full-time and affiliate faculty,” Hutchens said. “They are strong scholars and just really good people. It is an honor to be part of this team and to serve as our new department’s interim chair going forward.”

By Andrew M. Abernathy

Ph.D. Alumnus James Strickland Lands Job at Mississippi College

by UM School of Education on August 25, 2017

James Strickland, Ph.D. Photo credit: Mississippi College

Mississippi College reported that SOE Alumnus James Strickland (PhD 17) is the college’s new coordinator of its Clinical Mental Health Program. He will also teach counseling classes to graduate students.

“I am really excited to be reconnecting with my MC family as an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and Counseling,” he said in a MC News release.

Strickland finished his PhD in counselor education from the SOE this past May and also worked as a counselor at UM’s Clinic for Outreach and Personal Enrichment.

Read the full story here:

Statement from Chancellor Vitter Supporting the University of Virginia and the Charlottesville Communities

by UM School of Education on August 21, 2017

Hall of Fame: 4 Quick Questions with Dr. Jean M. Shaw

by UM School of Education on August 20, 2017

Jean Shaw is the first former UM School of Education faculty member to be inducted into the SOE’s Hall of Fame. A professor emerita, Shaw has taught students from pre-K to graduate school and experienced a 40-year career in education—including 30 years at Ole Miss from 1976 to 2006

She holds a mathematics  degree from Bradley University, a master’s degree in mathematics from Northwestern University, a Master of Education degree from Ole Miss and a doctorate in education from Columbia University.

Jean Shaw has positively impacted thousands of lives through her teaching and the teaching of her Ole Miss education students. We recently sat down to speak with Dr. Shaw about her experience as an educator and UM professor.

Can you share an experience that influenced you when you were a student at Ole Miss?

I came to Ole Miss under unique circumstances. I had degrees in math from Bradley and Northwestern. I came to Mississippi wanting to be a housewife because I had two young children. But, when September and late August came along, I realized that I missed school. I had been a high school teacher and a middle school teacher, but I was fascinated with how little kids learn math. So, I decided to go back to school and earn credits in elementary education. I was welcomed at the School of Education. I got my certification and master’s in elementary education. Then, I went on to become an officer in the (Mississippi Early Childhood Association). That was really influential. I met the most dedicated and knowledgeable people.

What advice would you like to give to current education students ?

Education is a very, very rewarding thing to work at, but it’s tough. There will be situations when you will have to stand up and do what’s right. But, keep in mind that we are educating tomorrow’s citizens and taxpayers. That’s very important. For those in elementary education, I would say that reading is extremely important. But, I am also an advocate for math and science. Math and science are so important for everyday life and the future of our country. As teachers, we need to pay attention to our students and help them succeed.

What does it mean to you to be inducted into the School of Education Hall of Fame?

It was a surprise. It is quite an honor. I appreciate it very much.

What did you enjoy most in your education career?

As a professor, I had a lot of opportunities. I had opportunities to meet people, to travel to conferences, to speak at conferences, to be on editorial boards and to be around very knowledgeable people. Working alongside dedicated educators and dedicated students and student teachers was really was inspiring. That’s what I enjoyed most.

Story by Kathleen Murphy, interview by Andrew Abernathy