Mississippi Teacher Corps a great option for would-be teachers

Published 9:00 am Monday, May 14, 2018

When my daughter was ready to graduate from Ole Miss with her bachelor’s degree in English, she mentioned once she wasn’t going to walk at the ceremony.

I quickly put an end to that thought process.

I just explained that her walking was for me, not her. It was so I can watch her take those steps across the stage, all the while, memories of her first steps running through my head – her first words, when she learned to ride a bike, etcetera, etcetera.

Email newsletter signup

On Saturday, she walked across the stage again — this time as a grad student, earning her Master’s of Arts in teaching. She didn’t even mention not walking this time. She knew better.

It was a wonderful Mother’s Day “gift” to watch her a second time.

However, this degree didn’t cost her a dime.

After she graduated with her bachelor’s, she went into the Peace Corps and taught English in Ethiopia. With her new found love of teaching, she knew she wanted to continue teaching here in the U.S., however, she didn’t have her teaching degree or certification.

She applied to Teach for America – a two-year program where you are able to teach in a school somewhere around the country, earning your degree at the same time. She wasn’t accepted, which turned out to a blessing.

A few weeks later, she and I attended the funerals for Al and Becky Moreton. There, I ran into Jean Shaw, a retired math professor. She told us of another program, one right here in our backyard, that could be an option for my daughter – Mississippi Teaching Corps.

College graduates agree to work and teach in high-poverty public schools for two years right here in Mississippi, while MTC provides the training, support and teaching certification. It also provides a full scholarship to Ole Miss for the students to earn their master’s degree. Students work as teachers Monday-Friday and then drive back to Oxford each week to attend class on Saturdays.

My daughter, Amanda, got a job teaching ninth-grade English at Byhalia High School in August 2016.

And now, two years later, she’s free to take her master’s degree and teach anywhere she wants. She’s chosen to remain in Byhalia; however, will be teaching Social Studies at the middle school this coming fall.

After graduation, I joined her for a lunch for MTC students. Nineteen MTC students graduated Saturday – that’s 19 people who are now teachers who might not have otherwise had the chance to become teachers. During the lunch, the graduates stood up, introduced themselves and their guests and told everyone where they would be teaching in the fall. Almost all of them will be staying to continue teaching in Mississippi schools.

MTC graduates will also have access to scholarship funds if they ever choose to pursue their Ph.Ds.

MTC has been turning out teachers for almost 30 years; however, so few seem to know about the program, and it’s one that should be well known.

When teens enter college, they aren’t always 100 percent sure what they want to do with their life and can change their minds umpteen times. MTC is a program that allows people who decide to change careers and teach a chance to do so – all the while earning a salary and getting a free master’s degree.

Now that’s what I call a win-win.