The official blog of the Ole Miss School of Education
The UM School of Education will host the Mississippi Association for Play Therapy Annual Spring Conference Feb.17-18 at the Robert C. Khayat Law Center.
Play Therapy is a specialized form of children’s counseling provided by licensed social workers and therapists who are trained in using play to help children process life experiences in a constructive way.
The therapy is used to help individuals process life experiences through their senses and emotions.
Conference attendees will come from all over the state and regional area.
“It is such a fun subject and it draws a lot of creative and interesting people,” said Mandy Perryman, assistant professor of counselor education.
75 people are registered to attend the event each day.
“I am really excited about the turn out,” said Perryman. “I was initially hoping that if we could just get 50 people here we would be doing good.”
The main speaker for the conference will be Sueann-Kenney Noziska, a licensed clinical social worker and registered play therapist supervisor who specializes in using play therapy with abused and traumatized children, adolescents and their families.
Faculty and graduate students in counseling will make presentations during the final session on Saturday.
“I always say that not everyone gets to sit around and play with toys all day, but we kind of do,” Perryman said.
There will be two different tracks for attendees to choose from—one for students and another for experienced teachers and professionals.
“I hope that for students this opens up doors of different ways that they can practice this type of counseling,” Perryman said. “And, for professionals, I hope that this conference will invigorate them to get back into their practice or their school and maybe try new things that they have learned and keep the passion going.”
Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m. on Friday and the conference will continue until Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
The University of Mississippi School of Education will host its third annual Teacher Induction Ceremony, March 28 at 5:30 p.m. at the Jackson Avenue Center.
The ceremony marks the beginning of students entering “Phase II” of their education program and acknowledges undergraduates in elementary education, special education and secondary education who have met select criteria.
“I believe we are united in the educational profession and our purpose to inspire and teach others to lead the profession,” said Virginia Moore, elementary education program coordinator and associate professor. “Many of these teacher candidates will devote their entire life to teaching and their journey begins this semester with the Induction Ceremony.”
To participate in the ceremony, students must complete all core requirements within their curriculum, have a minimum core GPA of at least 2.75 and a minimum ACT score of 21 (or passing the Praxis Core exam). The SOE currently has an average ACT score of 25 and a GPA of 3.28 for incoming teacher education students.
“I’m really excited about the ceremony,” said Gabrielle Vogt, UM junior and upcoming inductee. “I think that they are trying to build up the School of Education and the teaching profession in general.”
During the ceremony, students will receive a pin and lanyard to be worn as they work with students and licensed teachers during student teaching.
The main speaker at the induction ceremony will be past recipient of the Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award, Ethel Young Scurlock, associate professor of English and African American Studies at UM.
“This is really a way that we, as teachers, can give back to our students, said Diane Lowry, clinical assistant professor of special education.
Parents, spouses, children and guests are invited to attend the event each year and students say they are excited to be able to share such a memorable moment with their families.
“It is always exciting to empower these bright teacher candidates and to know they will improve our ever-changing democratic society and our future,” Moore said. “As professional educators, we believe that education is a noble profession with the power to transform the lives of others.”
By Alexandria Paton
Suzanne Dugger, professor and coordinator of counselor education at the University of Mississippi, has been appointed to the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs’ (CACREP) national Board of Directors.
Dugger joined the UM School of Education faculty in 2015 after 18 years at Eastern Michigan University. She was one of two individuals appointed to the CACREP Board of Directors and she will serve a five-year term beginning July 1, 2017.
“I’m looking forward to this opportunity to contribute to my profession,” Dugger said. “Faculty members are responsible for teaching, research and service, and to me this is a really valuable form of service to the profession of counseling at large. It’s a great opportunity.”
CACREP, a specialized accrediting body, evaluates professional counselor preparation programs within educational institutions to determine whether they fulfill program accreditation requirements.
The CACREP Board of Directors is composed of 13 to 15 members, with each member serving a five-year term. The Board of Directors sets the standards for accreditation, develops and adopts policies for accreditation, and evaluates programs for initial accreditation and reaccreditation.
“I’m looking forward serving the profession in this manner and to better understanding the strategies used by various universities to meet the program accreditation standards,” Dugger said.
Dugger said that this experience will also help her in the classroom as an educator, particularly with her Ph.D. students taking courses in leadership, program evaluation and accreditation.
For more information about CACREP, visit: http://www.cacrep.org/.
By Liz McCormick
A three-year, $3 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation will help University of Mississippi faculty provide state educators with specialized training to utilize new research and meet upcoming training demands facing the state’s early childhood education workforce.
The funds will be awarded in $1 million increments over the next three years to the North Mississippi Education Consortium (NMEC), which is located on UM’s Oxford campus and will host a variety of training opportunities with faculty support UM’s Graduate Center for the Study of Early Learning (GCSEL).
“We are creating a system of training to build certain capacities in school districts,” said Cathy Grace, GCSEL co-director. “Different training opportunities will allow both teachers and principals to get information that is appropriate to their role. We also want to inform teachers of what will be expected of them by the state as it changes its requirements and evaluations.”
Starting in 2018, the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) will require all Mississippi public school teachers to hold a special license endorsement to teach in any public early childhood classroom. Training opportunities to be provided with the new funding will provide multiple options for teachers to meet this requirement.
Grace describes the initiative as a “bundle of strategies,” with the aim of supporting high-quality pre-k classrooms. The focus will be exposing both teachers and administrators to the latest research in neuroscience and professional practice related to the rapidly evolving field of early childhood education.
The training programs planned in conjunction with MDE will benefit assistant teachers, teachers, principals and school superintendents working with pre-kindergarten students. These opportunities, scheduled in various locations across the state over the next three years, expect to train hundreds of early childhood teachers and school administrators on the most effective teaching practices for young children.
Online staff development courses designed for teachers seeking to receive their pre-k endorsement and tutorial support to teachers seeking to gain pre-kindergarten teacher certification will also be offered. Interested individuals are encouraged to contact NMEC or visit the Graduate Center website to get specific training information.
These opportunities will utilize state resources, as well as bring in national experts in early childhood education and school administration, and will be based on proven strategies that have yielded increased student outcomes and engaged families in communities.
According to the National Institute for Early Education Research, several studies show quality preschool programs can produce lasting gains in academic achievement, including gains in reading and mathematics. Studies also show an estimated $7 return on every $1 invested in public pre-K education in the form of long-term cost savings.
Currently, UM School of Education also offers two programs that can help teachers earn a pre-k license endorsement from MDE including its online Master of Education degree in early childhood education, as well as 12-hour undergraduate endorsement program.
“We, at the North Mississippi Education Consortium, are excited to be a part of this grant opportunity,” said Susan Scott, program coordinator at NMEC. “As educators, we see the value of early childhood education and the impact it has on the educational achievement of Mississippi’s children.”
By Andrew M. Abernathy
Being passionate, providing steady leadership, confronting challenges head on and holding people accountable—these are all qualities that make this year’s Oxford School District (OSD) Administrator of the Year shine. Della Davidson Elementary School Principal and SOE Alumna LaTonya Robinson (B.A.Ed. ’98, M.Ed. ’99) is the 2017 Oxford School District Administrator of the Year.
This is the second time in five years for Robinson to receive the top professional award for OSD administrators. In 2012, she received the award from the school district, where she has served as administrator for a total of seven years.
“The way that Mrs. Robinson handles challenges presented to her—whether expected or unexpected—is just one example of how her leadership style allows her to lead her team to rise to the top, no matter what obstacles are set before them,” said OSD Superintendent Brian Harvey.
With 651 children in her school, it’s not an uncommon practice for Robinson to give her “woo-hoo’s” of praise over the school intercom for students or teachers doing something great. She admits she’s always good for a hug, too, especially when it comes to her students. Under her leadership, the Oxford third- and fourth-grade school is ranked No. 2 in the state out of all other elementary, intermediate and middle schools in statewide accountability ratings. The Oxford School District is the No. 1 public school district in Mississippi based on 2015-2016 accountability scores from the Mississippi Department of Education.
“Earning the top ranking in the state is a win in which all Oxford schools contributed; however, Della Davidson Elementary School stands out as the MVP (Most Valuable Player) when it comes to our district’s accountability rankings,” Harvey said.
Robinson said that the news about the school performing at the very top among its peers and other schools was simply hard work that paid off for students and teachers.
Her career in public education began as a classroom teacher teaching language arts to fourth- and fifth-graders. Robinson taught for four years before she ever began entertaining the idea of becoming a school administrator. She credits her own teachers for her personal decision to enter the field of public education.
“My teachers were my role models, my superheroes,” said Robinson. “Growing up in the Mississippi Delta, during a very interesting time, we did not have a whole lot in our classrooms. The teachers themselves were a force! You could never tell they struggled in any way; simply put, they brought their ‘A’ game to school everyday.”
Robinson attended kindergarten through 12th grade in the Clarksdale Public School District, where she said, “Our teachers pushed us, and they said, ‘You will do because I said so.’ They compelled us to be better, there was no other choice. My teachers took care of me, they took care of my needs. I wanted to be that person for another child.”
Robinson noted that teaching for her is eternal: she will always be a teacher.
“I love everything about teaching,” said Robinson. “For me, being a leader, being a principal did not happen as a way for me to get away from teaching. I just remember all my pervious school administrators saying I needed to be an administrator. They would often comment to me that one day I would do their job.”
Robinson was the teacher who was always organized and wanted to get other teachers organized; she was the person on the school hall that other teachers went to when they needed something. At first, the thought of becoming an administrator was met with the instant answer, “No,” then things changed.
“I thought about the reach I could have as an administrator, how many more students I could reach as an administrator as opposed to the 23-25 students in a class,” said Robinson. “Realizing I could reach so many more if I did this (become an administrator), made the decision to become one so much easier for me.”
During her time as principal at Della Davidson Elementary School, Robinson incorporated data nights, a data-driven leadership style, which helps parents to see where their children are performing academically and how they can academically perform better and grow with the help of parents and/or family support. Robinson was also at the school’s helm during the district-wide grade reconfiguration process, when school district officials realigned grades, bringing new schools into existence to address the current growing student population.
“The saying that ‘Talent wins games, but teamwork wins championships,’ is true when it comes to Mrs. Robinson and her team,” said Harvey. “Our third- and fourth-grade students are performing well in math and English language arts on state tests, their academic needs are being met daily. These students are growing to reach their full potential as students and humans because of teachers and school leaders such as Mrs. Robinson.”
Robinson said that she owes a big thanks to Superintendent Harvey for having the faith in her to hire her as an administrator and to the district’s administrative team for the unending support.
She added, “I’m also thankful to the awesome team of people who make up Della Davidson Elementary School!”
At the end of the day, what’s Robinson’s advice to others?
“Surround yourself with the best people, give them the spotlight and allow them to shine. Ultimately, our success (at Della Davidson) is because of the teachers and their determination to be great!” Her other piece of advice: “Pray a lot!”
Robinson holds her undergraduate and graduate degree in elementary education from the University of Mississippi. She also holds her specialist degree in educational leadership from Delta State University. She is married to Dr. Marvin Robinson, and together they have three children: Mikaili, Makenzie and Peri Shaw.
By Kelly Graeber, Oxford School District