$2 million grant helps MSU-Meridian continue training elementary teachers to combat state’s shortage

Contact: Harriet Laird teacher in classroom

STARKVILLE, Miss.—More than $2 million in federal grant funding is helping Mississippi State University-Meridian continue its training of public school teachers to fill over 3,000 current vacancies.

The Mississippi Teacher Residency (MTR) program, introduced in 2018 and administered by the Mississippi Department of Education, is a free, two-year program designed to recruit underserved college students to work toward their degree in elementary education and Mississippi teacher certification. For the academic year, participants receive full scholarships, testing fees, books and mentor stipends.

Jeff Leffler, co-director of elementary education for MSU-Meridian’s program said, “We are excited to have this opportunity to build upon our work with Mississippi Teacher Residency and partner with seven additional school districts in creating a graduate-level pathway to teacher certification based on the residency model.”

New districts joining Jackson Public Schools in the MTR program are Choctaw County, Kemper County, Lauderdale County, Louisville Municipal, Meridian, Starkville Oktibbeha and Union.

MTR includes training alongside a mentor teacher, testing support, professional development, ongoing assessment and a commitment to teach in a geographical critical shortage school or district serving low-income children, racial/ethnic minorities and children with disabilities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

“Congratulations to Dr. Leffler, Dr. Ksenia Zhbanova and Brandi Sumrall at MSU- Meridian,” said College of Education Dean Teresa Jayroe. “We are excited to be awarded this funding that will give us the opportunity to better focus our efforts on critical teacher shortage areas in Mississippi by helping recruit individuals to teacher education who are already connected to those locations. Students are better served by teachers who know their needs, and recruiting from these areas puts teachers who know those needs into classrooms.”

Thirteen students graduated from the first two cohorts at MSU-Meridian in 2021. Now entering its third cohort, MTR hopes to graduate approximately 100 new elementary teachers over the course of the four-year grant program at MSU-Meridian and the four other university training sites at Delta State, Jackson State and William Carey, along with the University of Southern Mississippi. These universities are sharing a total of $9.8 million funded by the Kellogg Foundation and American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief program.

Kim Hall, interim associate dean and MSU-Meridian Division of Education head also thanked MDE. She said, “We are thrilled to receive funding to support future teachers across the state. I’m extremely grateful to the Mississippi Department of Education for their support.”

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.


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