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How a teacher’s post-grad calling led her to Mississippi

Haley Haggard may be only 22 years old, but she knows exactly what she wants to do with her life. And thanks to the Mississippi Teacher Corps, she’s doing it.

Haggard was found on the University of Mississippi Campus Saturday after her class. She and the others in the program work during the week as teachers at various schools around Mississippi, and return to Ole Miss every other Saturday to work on their master’s degree.

At the end of two years, Haggard will earn her Master of Arts degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Mississippi. The program is an alternative path to teaching for those who have a bachelor’s degree but lack a teaching degree and certification.

The program started in June, and for about seven weeks, Haggard took part in the intense teacher training program, teaching math at Holly Springs’ summer school under the guidance of certified teachers in the MTC program.

Haggard is from New Hampshire and attended college in North Carolina where she earned a degree in mathematics. After graduation, she wasn’t sure what she would do with her degree.

“I always thought I’d work in an office somewhere and make a lot of money,” Haggard said. “I had worked at daycares and as a summer camp counselor, and the more I was around kids, the more I realized I wanted to be a teacher.”

Her roommate from college had joined the Teacher Corps program and she decided to apply herself. After she was selected, she was Ole Miss-bound, finding herself in Mississippi for the first time.

“I love it here,” she said. “I love the southern hospitality. People are much friendlier here than in the North. And more nosy – I’m getting used to that, though. I know there’s a huge shortage of teachers in Mississippi and I wanted to go where I’d be most needed. ”

Haggard is now a math teacher at Meridian High School where she teaches freshman Algebra I. It’s only been two weeks, but she’s already in love with her students and her new career.

“This is everything I want to do with the rest of my life, for sure,” she said. “I was never meant to be a teacher at a gifted or private school. I was meant to teach the kids everyone else is afraid to teach.”

For more information on the MTC, visit http://mtc.olemiss.edu.