HATTIESBURG, MISS. – Hattiesburg’s William Carey University received a major grant to help with the teacher shortage in Meridian. According to William Carey’s Dean of Education, Ben Burnett, the number of teachers in the state of Mississippi has dwindled significantly.
“In 2007, the state department licensed over seven-thousand teachers, and in 2017 that number had dropped to six-hundred-and-three,” Burnett said.
These statistics represent over a 90 percent decrease in the amount of certified teachers in the state of Mississippi over the past ten years. One of the areas affected the most is Meridian, Miss.
“The Phil Harden Foundation has created a focus for their organization. Their prime focus is the Meridian school district,” Burnett explained.
Recently, the Phil Hardin Foundation gave William Carey University a $20,000 grant to help combat the shortage of teachers in the Meridian area. The program will allow someone who already holds a bachelor's degree in another field, the opportunity to take the courses required to obtain an alternate route teaching license.
“Those who qualify for admission will be exempt from tuition for the two classes required for the alternate route certification to education,” Burnett said. “So, candidates will get to go for free, and will be in the Meridian area, and they will be contractually bound to teach in Meridian schools at least to begin with.”
The $20,000 grant will pay for up to 10 people, and if more than 10 people apply William Carey University will cover the tuition cost for the additional students. Overall, Burnett hopes this will be the first step towards fixing the teachers shortage.
“Well, I’m confident it will make a dent. I don't know the number specifically of what areas they have a shortage in, but the response we've had so far has been tremendous,” Burnett said.
Courses for the program will begin February 26 and must be completed by the end of May.
For more information please visit William Carey University’s website. www.wmcarey.edu