Southern Miss ranked 6th nationally in schools producing new certified teachers

Southern Miss ranked 6th nationally in schools producing new certified teachers

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - This is a news release from USM. 

In keeping with its founding mission, The University of Southern Mississippi continues to distinguish itself in training teachers for the state, nation and world.

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards recently ranked Southern Miss sixth in the country in producing new National Board Certified Teachers in 2014. Initiated more than 25 years ago, National Board Certification gives teachers the opportunity to achieve standards beyond those required by the state in which they work. Other desired outcomes of the program are recognition and retention of high quality teachers and ongoing improvement in schools across the country.

USM was established in 1910 as Mississippi Normal College, with the mission to elevate the preparation of teachers for service in state elementary and secondary schools. Dr. Ann P. Blackwell, dean of the university's College of Education and Psychology, said that the university has expanded its mission in the last century but continues to take pride in honoring its roots as a teacher's college by producing quality educators.

“We're very proud of the number of National Board Certified Teachers in Mississippi with USM ties, and committed to preparing our students to be exemplary teachers and to fully supporting their professional growth after they graduate,” Blackwell said.

National certification consists of four components: written assessment of content knowledge, reflection on student work samples, video and analysis of teaching practice, and documented impact and accomplishments as a teaching professional. Board certification is available from pre-K through 12


grade in 25 certificate areas.

Robin Atwood, director of the World Class Teacher Program and South Mississippi Writing Project at USM, said the ranking was “a testament to the quality of instruction in the teacher education department and also to the quality of support offered by the World Class Teacher Program.”

“I encourage all USM graduates to seek National Board certification, and to use our support services while doing so,” Atwood said. “I can easily see us moving into the top 5."

The World Class Teacher Program provides support for candidates for National Certification as they prepare to attain the designation, including facilitators who currently hold National Certification. The process takes approximately a year.

Bill Kirby, a Southern Miss alumnus and a 27-year veteran teacher who holds National Board Certification, serves as a facilitator/support person for the program. Like Atwood, he encourages teachers to consider pursuing the designation.

“It's not an easy process, but if you do it you're going to grow as a professional and create more opportunities for yourself and your students,” said Kirby, who teaches Advanced Placement English Language Arts and English Literature at Petal High School.

More information about National Board Certification can be found at

. For information about USM's teacher education programs and others in the College of Education and Psychology, visit