WCU receives grant for alternate route program


William Carey University received a grant from the Phil Hardin Foundation for a project that will address the teacher shortage in Meridian by helping professionals complete the coursework to become teachers.

This project will allow someone who already holds a bachelor’s degree in another field to take the courses required to obtain an alternate route teaching license. The $20,000 grant will be used to pay the tuition for up to 10 people. If more than 10 people apply, WCU will cover the tuition cost for the additional students.

“We are excited about the opportunity to expand our Teach Meridian campaign in partnership with William Carey University,” said Meridian Superintendent Amy Carter. “The grant provided through the Phil Hardin Foundation affords prospective teachers financial assistance to become a teacher which benefits both our students and our community.”

“Dedicated, high-quality teachers are the most important factor in the success of our public schools, and there’s a crisis in teacher availability and retention in Mississippi right now,” said Lloyd Gray, executive director of the Hardin Foundation. “The Meridian Public School District faces a major challenge in recruiting and retaining good teachers, and the Hardin Foundation is pleased to be a partner with William Carey University in an important initiative that will help MPSD meet that challenge.”

The Phil Hardin Foundation, established by the owner of Hardin’s Bakeries in 1964, is a Meridian-based educational philanthropy with a statewide mission to support innovative efforts to improve the education of Mississippians.

“Alternate route teachers have had much success in filling the needs for the teacher shortage,” said Dr. Ben Burnett, dean of the WCU School of Education. “I am very excited to help solve the teacher shortage in Meridian School District, where I began my teaching career in 1986.”

The cost of additional course work is one of the challenges for people who decide they want to be teachers after receiving their degree in another field. “This project will eliminate that hurdle for them,” said Burnett.

Lower teacher attrition rates are another benefit of the alternate route program. According to a study conducted by Georgia State University, alternate route teachers “are more likely to remain in the profession because many are second-career individuals making a conscious choice to transition into teaching.”

Those who receive funding from the grant and complete the courses must agree to work in the Meridian Public Schools the following year. The courses will begin in the spring trimester, which starts Feb. 26, 2018. The courses required for certification will be completed by the end of May 2018. Candidates who successfully complete the courses and pass the required licensing examinations will be eligible to enter the workforce as a teacher for Meridian Public School District by fall 2018.

“Since its earliest days, Carey has prepared teachers for the schools of Mississippi and neighboring states,” said WCU President Tommy King. “This is another example of the innovative ways that WCU fulfills its mission of meeting the needs of our area and the world.”

More information about the alternate route program is available on the WCU website at http://bit.ly/WCUaltroute or call (601) 318-6299.

About William Carey University: William Carey University provides quality educational programs within a caring Christian academic community, which challenge the individual student to excel in scholarship, leadership, and service in a diverse global society. Campuses are located in Hattiesburg and Biloxi, Mississippi. For more information, visit www.wmcarey.edu.