STARKVILLE, Miss.--Though still in its first year, a Mississippi State education degree program already is expanding to provide more opportunities for teachers from some of the state's poorest, most rural areas.
Awarded by the U.S. Department of Education, the five-year Transition to Teaching grant for the Teacher Education for Rural Middle Schools program is designed to provide an alternative route for those interested in teaching in rural middle schools.
The university and its College of Education received $446,893 for the first year, with more than $3 million to be distributed over the remaining four years to support the TERMS program.
Transition to Teaching specifically recruits mid-career professionals, as well as recent graduates with degrees outside of education. Designed to provide alternative teachers certification routes, it also helps place graduates in high-need schools.
A key program feature is its distance-learning structure, with all classes provided online.
"There is a recognized need for a degree program such as this, because of a teacher shortage, particularly in rural areas such as the Delta," said Devon Brenner, professor and head of MSU's curriculum, instruction and special education department.
The first group of students began in June, but, starting in 2013, participants will be able to enter the program in either January or June of each year.
Among other changes:
--An increase in the number of partner districts from 20 to 103 and
--The addition of physical education, music, art and special education to the initial content areas of English, science, mathematics and social studies.
Brenner said the middle school-alternate route degree program is available to anyone eligible, with special incentives offered to match interested new teachers with high-need Mississippi schools. The incentives include a $5,000 scholarship and two years of mentoring after degree completion.
TERMS scholars also receive $5,000 worth of classroom equipment, which stays with the school. Recipients are required to teach in the school for at least three years.
As students enter the degree program, they are hired for teaching positions at the fourth-eighth-grade class levels, Brenner explained, adding that they may remain in those positions after completing the degree.
For more information about TERMS, contact director Matthew Alred at 662-325-0372 or firstname.lastname@example.org.