The official blog of the Ole Miss School of Education
OXFORD, Miss.—The University of Mississippi School of Education recently honored four outstanding alumni as part of its new Practitioner of Distinction Awards.
The school created the award to recognize mid-career educators who are demonstrating exemplary work in their field. The 2017 honorees include: Shelley Clifford of Atlanta, Jessica Ivy of Starkville, Jay Levy of Canton and Wanikka Vance of Chicago.
The awards are a counterpart to the School of Education’s Hall of Fame, which honors alumni who have at least 25 years of service in education. The honorees were recognized at the School of Education’s Hall of Fame ceremony on May 12 at the Inn at Ole Miss.
Shelly Clifford received her bachelor’s degree in education from Ole Miss in 2003 and was named Graduate Student of the Year in 2004 when she earned her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction. She has served as the head of the lower school at Mount Vernon Presbyterian School for six years in Atlanta. Prior to current role, Clifford served as a third-, fifth- and sixth-grade teacher for seven years in Memphis, Tennessee, and Charleston, South Carolina.
“It’s really humbling to be celebrated like this,” said Clifford. “I hope that this will be an opportunity to reconnect with Ole Miss. I would love to come back and spend time with education students.”
Jessica Ivy earned three degrees from UM including a doctorate in math education in 2011.
Ivy is an assistant professor of secondary education at Mississippi State University. She also works with the MSU chapter of the Mississippi Excellence Teaching Program.
“Receiving this award sends a message that people are starting to recognize the importance of teachers,” said Ivy. “I’m very honored to have received it and been a small part of the mission to support our educators.”
Jay Levy graduated from the UM in 2011 with bachelor’s degree in English education. Levy experienced a tragic car accident during his junior year at Ole Miss. But, he did not allow it to keep him from his passion for teaching.
During Levy’s first year of teaching at Pisgah High School, not only did his English students earn the highest pass rate in the state of Mississippi on the state subject area test, but he was also selected as teacher of the year.
“I began wondering if the students would still respond to me the same way since I am in a wheelchair,” Levy said. “I think they respected me more after I told them my story and I was open with them and let them ask questions. That’s how I always start class on the first day of school and I always tell them to wear their seatbelt. It gives me a teachable moment to let them know that life is hard, but it’s possible to move on.”
Wanikka Vance received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from UM in 2003.
Vance has served as a Chicago elementary school teacher for 10 years. In 2011, she founded a school for pre-K to first-graders called Foundations 4 adVANCEment, which
focuses on preparing young learners academically and socially to become college and career-minded from their earliest stages of growth and development.
“This award is a great honor,” said Vance. “Most of the time when you leave your alma mater, you’re just gone. To know that they have actually been following me professionally is a big surprise to me, but also a great honor to be able to realize that the work I am doing is not in vain.”
By Kathleen Murphy
OXFORD, Miss. – The Lafayette County and Oxford Public Library will host the Moonshot Moment Rocket—a cross-country campaign to support the efforts of Grade-Level Reading (GLR) Organizations—on Thursday, June 22.
Community members are invited to visit the Rocket on June 22 from noon to 2 p.m.
The Moonshot Moment initiative is a collaborative campaign with The Learning Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to building innovative and collaborative solutions to help children learn to read.
“We hope this visit will help raise awareness about the importance of reading and community members coming together for this important cause,” said Ashley Parker Sheils, director of the Mississippi Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.
The initiative emerged from The Learning Alliance’s goal of 90 percent of all third-graders reading on grade level. Right now only 35 percent of American children are reading proficiently by third grade, leaving them with only a 1 in 6 chance of catching up.
While the Moonshot Moment Rocket is returning from Grade-Level Reading Week in Denver, Colorado, it will be visiting six GLR Pacesetter Award-Winning Communities, including Oxford. During the Rocket’s time in Oxford, it will kickoff the “Voices: A Community Tapestry of Stories” national campaign for the Oxford area.
The “Voices” project is an arts-enriched literacy community connection experience designed to make early literacy and grade-level reading a national priority. The project will collect stories of the Oxford community, and then weave them together in a large tapestry that will serve as a moving art installation.
OXFORD, Miss.—The University of Mississippi School of Education inducted its third class of alumni into its Hall of Fame in May.
Collectively, the six inductees have more than 200 years of wisdom, experience and commitment to education and public service in Mississippi and across the country.
The 2017 honorees include: Thomas R. Burke of Kansas City, Kansas; Laura Dunn Jolly of Ames, Iowa; Robert C. Khayat of Oxford; Jean M. Shaw of Oxford and the late Theopolis P. Vinson of Oxford. Carole Lynn Meadows of Gulfport, the second recipient of the School’s Outstanding Educational Service Award, was recognized during the ceremony on May 12 at the Inn at Ole Miss.
The School of Education Alumni Board of Directors selected honorees from nominations submitted earlier this year.
“The School of Education Alumni Hall of Fame honors those who have made a significant and long-term impact on the education profession,” said UM Education Dean David Rock. “These six individuals are the epitome of what the University of Mississippi and the School of Education represents.”
Burke began his educational journey at Ole Miss in 1969, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1970 and a master’s degree in 1972 (both in history) and a doctorate in higher education in 1981. From there, he embarked on a distinguished 39-year career at four community colleges.
Burke progressed in roles at Kansas City Kansas Community College from history professor to dean of instruction to vice president and then president of the community college in 1992, a position he served 19 years until his retirement in 2011. Burke is also a member of the Mid-America Education Hall of Fame and The Thomas R. Burke Technical Education Center was named for him.
“It is certainly a high recognition from the School of Education, which I am honored to receive,” Burke said. “In my career, I learned more from my mistakes than my successes. I think the real key is to learn not to make the same mistake over and over again but never be afraid to take action because you might make a mistake.”
Jolly, who is currently the dean of College of Human Sciences at Iowa State University, received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Mississippi in 1977, and then advanced her education with a master’s degree and doctorate from Oklahoma State University.
Jolly has a 38-year tenure with six different institutions of higher learning. Jolly received a Taylor Medal from Ole Miss in 1977, earned Georgia’s Most Powerful and Influential Women Award from the National Diversity Council in 2011, and was named “100 Graduates of Significance” by the graduate School at Oklahoma State in 2012.
“I am truly honored,” said Jolly. “As I think about it, Ole Miss was such an important part of my educational foundation. It’s really wonderful to be recognized in this way. I feel very honored and humbled.”
Khayat, the 15th chancellor of the University of Mississippi earned a bachelor’s degree from the UM School of Education in 1961. He then went on to obtain a Juris Doctor degree from Ole Miss in 1966 and then a Masters of Law degree from Yale University in 1980.
Khayat shaped the history of Ole Miss by raising more than $900 million in gifts to the university, establishing the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, attracting a Phi Beta Kappa Chapter and hosting a presidential debate among many other accomplishments. He also published a book, “The Education of a Lifetime,” which chronicles his life and times at Ole Miss.
“If teaching is what makes you happy, I doubt you could find a better thing to do that would be more rewarding than teaching,” Khayat said. “I’ve taught eighth grade science and I’ve taught law school. I’m so thankful my road took me to education and higher education and being able to teach.”
Shaw, who is the first faculty member of the School of Education selected to its Hall of Fame, obtained a mathematics undergraduate degree from Bradley University, a master’s degree in mathematics from Northwestern University, a Master of Education degree from Ole Miss in 1974 and a doctorate in education from Columbia University.
Shaw, a math and science educator, taught students from pre-kindergarten to graduate school for more than 40 years, including 30 years at Ole Miss from 1976 to 2006.
“As a teacher educator I had a lot of opportunities,” Shaw said. “I had the opportunity to meet people, to go to conferences, to speak at conferences, to be on editorial boards and work with very talented people. Working alongside dedicated educators and student teachers was an honor.”
Vinson is the first deceased person to be inducted to the School’s Hall of Fame. Vinson received a master’s degree in 1982 and then a doctorate in 1997 from the University of Mississippi.
A former teacher, he joined the staff of the School of Education in 1989 by serving as director of undergraduate student advising and field experience and assistant dean. He also worked with the Mississippi Teachers Corps, serving in Mississippi’s most critical needs school districts.
Meadows earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Mississippi in 1960 and a master’s degree in business education in 1964.
Meadows has invested 27 years as a teacher, 22 of those years at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. She is co-founder of the nationally renowned Lynn Meadows Discovery Center in Gulfport, Mississippi, which is the first children’s museum in the state. From 2009 to 2012, she chaired the Mississippi Council on Economic Education Board, which includes 40 top business executives and is a national leader in providing instruction and curriculum to K-12 teachers to be able to teach students to think from an economic point of view.
“What could be better than to be recognized for what you have done all your life with passion,” Meadows said. “We have an enormous role as teachers and educators. We are molding what’s to be. That’s a big responsibility, but it’s a good one.”
The School of Education Alumni Hall of Fame was established in 2015, when UM inducted its charter class of three alumni: Milton Kuykendall of DeSoto County, Judith Reynolds of Clinton and Jerome Smith of Jackson.
The 2016 class included: Suzie Mills Adcock of Jackson; Jahnae H. Barnett of Fulton, Missouri; Charles Robert Depro of Sikeston, Missouri; Cathy Stewart of Oxford; and Cecil C. Brown Jr. of Jackson. Brown received the School of Education’s first-ever service award for non-education alumni.
by Kathleen Murphy
The Principal Corps is UM’s elite program for aspiring educational leaders, and over nearly a decade, the program has produced 87 new graduates, 90 percent of whom are currently serving as a principal or assistant principal in school districts across the state of Mississippi and beyond. This is also the first all-female cohort of the program.
The group includes: Robin Auringer of the Gulfport School District, Christine Beeker of the Meridian Public School District, Angela Carr of the Nettleton School District, Sharon Cooley of the Lamar County School District, Monica Meredith of the Senatobia Municipal School District, Kathleen Nelson of the Rankin County School District, Angela Oliphant of the Harrison County School District, Sandra Oliver of the Jefferson County School District, Kewanna Riley of the Harrison County School District, Lindsay Starbuck of the Smith County School District and Marrion Winders of the Tupelo Public School District.
At the program’s orientation on May 31, Principal Corps Interim Director Tom Burnham and other members of the School of Education faculty, addressed the group of aspiring school leaders who hail from all corners of Mississippi.
“One of the things we’re most proud of in the Principal Corps is the growth of this program throughout the state,” said Burnham, a two-time state superintendent of education and former UM education dean. “There are a number of you who are coming into the Principal Corps from districts that have never been part of our program before. We’re very proud of that.”
Designed to be a transformational journey toward school leadership, the 13-month program prepares teachers for K-12 leadership positions with a combination of graduate coursework and two full-time internships (fall and spring semesters) where program participants learn from experienced mentor-principals at internship sites.
The 12 new cohort members possess impressive credentials. Many hold advanced degrees or national board certifications.
Angela Oliphant, biology teacher from the Harrison County School District, holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Southern Mississippi and a master’s degree from William Carey University, but chose UM’s Principal Corps for its reputation.
“I wanted to learn how to be an effective leader in our schools, and I knew Ole Miss had the best program,” said Oliphant. “The Principal Corps has established a name that speaks for itself. The previous cohorts all speak very highly of the instructors and the program.”
The program offers one of the most valuable leadership scholarships in the country. All cohort members receive full tuition, books and housing while at UM. In addition, the program enables participants to take leave from their home school districts without sacrificing their salary during the program.
In addition to two summer sessions, Principal Corps participants come to Oxford one weekend per month for face-to-face instruction during the school year. Each graduate receives a Master of Education or Specialist in Education degree in educational leadership from UM, which, along with passing the School Leaders Licensure Assessment, will qualify them for a state school administrator’s license.
Principal Corps Recruit Monica Meredith is a special education teacher Senatobia Elementary School who started her teaching career 17 years ago via Teach for America. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and a master’s degree from UM.
“I saw (the Principal Corps) as an intense and elite program where I could work closely with professors and my classmates,” Meredith said. “I would like to go back to my district and start impacting children’s lives there immediately. I’ve taught there, I live close to there—it’s where my heart is.”
Besides earning an advanced degree in educational leadership, graduates also 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.
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.
“The opportunity that you have to impact the lives of children is going to expand tremendously through this program,” said Burnham at the orientation. “It will expand when you go into schools and start your internships. But along with opportunity, we must also embrace responsibility. Where much is given, much is expected.”
By Andrew Abernathy
OXFORD, Miss. — SOE alumna Alli Rhodes (M.Ed. 16, B.A.Ed. 15), a first-year kindergarten teacher at Bramlett Elementary School, is the Oxford School District 2017 First Year Teacher of the Year.
To be named the Oxford School District First Teacher of the Year, a teacher must be in their first year of teaching within an Oxford school. According to Bramlett Elementary School Principal Suzanne Ryals, Rhodes has worked throughout the school year to see that her students achieve and grow to their maximum potential.
“Ms. Rhodes’ student data is phenomenal for not only a first-year teacher, but a master teacher, as well,” said Ryals. “She led her class to 100 percent growth in math and reading on assessments students take on the content and skills they learn during the school year. Her commitment to her students, collaboration with her fellow teachers, and continuing professional growth demonstrate her high standards: these qualities are examples of a highly effective teacher.
Rhodes has both her bachelor’s degree in elementary education and master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of Mississippi. While in the master’s program she received honors as 2016 Outstanding Master’s Degree Student in Elementary Education from the University of Mississippi. She holds educational endorsements in mild/moderate disabilities kindergarten through 12th grade, English 7th-12th grades and middle school mathematics.