Delta State partners with local school district to train teachers

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Delta State University received a three-year $600,000 grant from the Mississippi Department of Education to partner with the Sunflower County Consolidated School District on a Mississippi Teacher Residency program that will prepare the next generation of primary school teachers for jobs in their community. Each year for the next three years, 12 teacher candidates enrolled at Delta State and living in Sunflower County will complete their training and ultimately provide the region with 36 new educators.

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The W. K. Kellogg Foundation funds the program for the Mississippi Department of Education. DSU’s Division of Teacher Education, Leadership, and Research within the College of Education and Human Sciences administers the Delta State portion through Dr. Merideth Van Namen, chair and associate professor of teacher education, who wrote the grant, and Dr. Kaysie Burton, assistant professor of teacher education, and the coordinator of the program. It begins this fall.

“We’re very appreciative to be selected for this initiative for many reasons,” said Dr. Leslie Griffin, dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences at Delta State. “Teacher candidates receive on-the-job training while earning a teaching degree from Delta State. They get individualized mentoring from cooperating classroom teachers. Through intensive on-site experience, the program offers deeper preparation for teacher candidates to be day-one ready upon graduation. It also provides an incentive for them to work in their own community. And it helps address head-on the teacher shortage throughout the state. This type of mindful, cutting-edge approach has been a hallmark of Delta State since its creation as Delta State Teachers College in 1924.”

The Mississippi Department of Education worked with selected school districts to identify the top 12 candidates. The school districts have chosen teacher mentors for each candidate and collaborated with the universities on placements.

“All stakeholders will be at the table to plan and ensure that these residency candidates are engaged in high-quality classroom experiences where they can apply the skills they are learning through their academic programs,” said Van Namen. “DSU’s goal is to replicate the program in additional Delta area school districts and grow the teaching pool to offset teacher shortages there as well.”

Mississippi State University is partnering with the Jackson Public School District, and William Carey University is teaming with the Ocean Springs and Gulfport School Districts. Both universities received the $600,000 grants as well. The Mississippi Teacher Residency program is the first state-run teacher residency in the nation. More than 300 teacher candidates applied for the program. It’s based on the National Center for Teacher Residencies model that has helped launch more than 35 teacher residency programs in high-need schools in 18 states since being founded in 2007.

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