By Ellen Ciurczak
A new agreement between the University of Southern Mississippi and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College could put teachers as young as 20 into classrooms and help alleviate the state’s teachers shortage.
On Monday, Southern Miss President Rodney Bennett and MGCCC President Mary Graham signed a memorandum of understanding for what they called an “exciting new academic partnership.”
“The state of Mississippi is in the midst of a teacher shortage,” Bennett said. “To help address this need, the University of Southern Mississippi and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College have collaborated to develop an innovative teacher education partnership program.”
Under the agreement, high school juniors and seniors who complete MGCCC’s Collegiate Academy, where they earn an associate’s degree while attending high school, could then enter the Southern Miss Teachers College program and earn a teaching degree in two years.
Students who complete the program would be eligible for a five-year, career-level teaching license from the Mississippi Department of Education. The program means students as young as 20 could be taking over as elementary and special education teachers and teacher assistants.
“This new pathway will produce more highly qualified teachers for our state by allowing prospective students to complete a rigorous academic curriculum on a more efficient route to earning licensure,” Bennett said.