HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The following is a news release from The University of Southern Mississippi
For the past three semesters, the Department of English at The University of Southern Mississippi has been second to none when it comes to job placement. Schools throughout South Mississippi are peppered with Golden Eagles, but Southern Miss graduates have also gone on to teach in Alabama, Florida and Louisiana.
Students in the English Licensure Program complete the traditional English major, take select courses in education, and spend a semester student teaching. They take three English methods courses specifically designed for the English with Licensure major —teaching composition, teaching literature, and teaching language — as well as a practicum class in which they observe and assist at a local school. By the time English with Licensure students graduate, they are certified to teach grades 7-12 in Mississippi.
Dr. Kate Cochran serves as the director of the English Licensure Program and explains that the program demands excellence and enforces strict guidelines which Southern Miss students continue to meet. Students must maintain a GPA of 2.75 to be admitted into the program and earn grades no lower than a C in any English or education courses. She says the students are enthusiastic and engaged because they understand why their dedication is critical.
"Our students are committed to learning. They are very well-prepared to take on the challenge of teaching," Cochran said.
That is one reason the program graduates are eminently employable. Sherry Kinkopf, coordinator of student teaching, said there is a great need for qualified teachers right now.
"Principals and lead teachers are calling and contacting me for recommendations for hires and we need more licensure majors to fill the demand," Kinkopf said.
The College of Arts and Letters recently welcomed Dr. Rebecca Powell, a dynamic teacher and researcher from New Mexico State University, who is working with licensure students on the Southern Miss Gulf Park campus.
The English licensure program at Southern Miss boasts an exceptional placement rate for its graduates: for those seeking immediate employment, the rate for the past three semesters has been 100%. Mississippi needs qualified teachers and according to the Mississippi Department of Employment Security, jobs for teachers are projected to grow between 7.3%-17.4% through 2020. This offers great hope for licensure graduates who are eager to get out in the world and start making a difference in the lives of middle and high school students.
Recent graduates have secured teaching positions at Hattiesburg High School, N.R. Burger Middle School, Petal High School, Perry Central High School, Oak Grove High School, Oak Grove Middle School, Forrest County Agricultural High School, Purvis High School, West Lauderdale High School, Brookhaven High School and Jefferson Middle School.
Some English with Licensure majors prefer to enter graduate programs after completing the B.A., which include master's programs in English, library science and education. Cochran believes the rigorous program provides a solid foundation for its majors, which ultimately benefits the students they teach and inspire.
For more information about the English Licensure program, visit www.usm.edu/english.