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State, Ole Miss jointly launching teacher recruitment program

OXFORD and STARKVILLE — Mississippi’s two largest universities have joined forces to create a program designed to attract the state’s best and brightest students into the field of education through a private gift totaling more than $12.9 million.

The Mississippi Excellence in Teaching Program, or MET, is a joint effort by the School of Education at the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) and the College of Education at Mississippi State University (MSU) and is funded by the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation in Jackson.

Designed to be the equivalent of an honors college for education majors, the program seeks to increase interest in middle and high school teaching as a career for top incoming freshmen and community college transfer students. The initial goal will be to attract high ability students who want to become mathematics and English teachers and to help meet the needs of new Common Core standards introduced in Mississippi last fall.

Once launched, both universities hope to recruit 20 students at each campus per year. Over a five-year period, the plan is to produce up to 160 new teachers. All graduates make a five-year commitment to teach in Mississippi after graduation.

During their course of study, students will gain exposure to faculty and fellow MET students at Ole Miss and MSU during cross campus visits each semester and weeklong summer residencies, the deans said. In addition, during their senior year MET students will have the opportunity to attend a national or regional professional conference relevant to their teaching discipline.

The program will require new faculty and support staff at both universities. MSU and Ole Miss will hire program coordinators and new professors in math and English education to design and implement new coursework and recruit applicants from around the state.

METs first class will begin at the Oxford and Starkville campuses in fall 2013.

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