Sixteen University of Mississippi freshmen from nine states joined the student body this week as fellows in the third class of the Mississippi Excellence in Teaching Program, one of the nation’s most valuable scholarships for future educators.
The group possesses an average ACT score of 29 and represents substantial growth for the UM program, which has 46 students enrolled from 13 states.
“You’re part of the UM family already,” UM Acting Chancellor Morris Stocks told the group Aug. 21 during an orientation session at the Lyceum. “This is the largest and brightest freshman class our university has ever seen and you are now part of it.”
The select group includes: Jenna Antolik and Julia Banys, both of Glencoe, Missouri; Alex Battaglia of Bel Air, Maryland; Meghan Besaw of Madison, Alabama; Austin Bradley-Tillett of Burleson, Texas; Breanna Comley of Belleville, Illinois; David Hamidy of Alpharetta, Georgia; Allison Herman of Niceville, Florida; Luke Lee of Madison; Sarah Moncrief of Olive Branch; Abigail Ozment of Iuka; Harper Panter of Saucier; Savannah Reeb of Lawrence, Kansas; Shevanti Retnam of Oxford; Allie Roberson of Canton and Katie Simpson of Madison.
METP prepares top-performing students for careers as secondary English or mathematics teachers and is funded by the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation of Jackson, which awarded UM and its sibling chapter at Mississippi State University a $12.95 million grant to build the program in 2012.
Ten of the new students will study English education and six will study mathematics education.
“There is no other program like this in the nation,” UM education dean David Rock told the group. “There are programs all over the country that will cover your tuition, but METP provides opportunities that you won’t see anywhere else because bringing students like you into education is just that important.”
The program offers four years of full tuition, room and board, a technology stipend, professional development, study abroad and more. All fellows make a five-year commitment to teach in Mississippi public schools after graduation.
“It’s wonderful to see such talented and passionate young people from across the nation coming here to focus their attentions on education,” said Ryan Niemeyer, METP director. “We’ve maintained the highest standards for METP. Each fellow was selected because he or she holds top credentials and a genuine belief in the important role education plays in our society.”
While most education majors begin education coursework and field experiences during their junior year, METP fellows are immersed in educational issues and theories from their first semester with specialized seminars each year.
“I want to be a teacher because I believe the greatest goal worth striving for is helping others,” said Hamidy, an English education major. “METP provides the very best opportunity for me to one day accomplish my ultimate goal and life purpose: to be a successful and impactful high school English teacher who influences students’ futures.”
Also, METP students from both Ole Miss and MSU come together each semester for cross-campus learning activities at both campuses, allowing them to learn from faculty at both institutions.
“I think it’s great that this is a collaborative program,” said Ozment, a math education major. “All of the plans we have to work together make me think that METP is a program that will have a very positive impact on the state of Mississippi as a whole.”
This summer, UM’s first METP cohort (Class of 2017) will take the program’s first study abroad trip to England and Scotland, where they will visit universities and secondary schools to gain a multicultural perspective on education issues.
Courtesy of Andrew Mark Abernathy and the Ole Miss News Desk