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Strengthening Science Education in Mississippi

Gift Creates New School of Education Position

In 2017, DeSoto Central High School students attended a Center for Mathematics and Science Education STEM Exposure Excursion physics demonstration conducted by Thomas Jamerson, UM laboratory physicist.

A support fund aimed at helping improve science education statewide has been established at the University of Mississippi by the Mississippi Public School Consortium for Educational Access, represented by the Scott County School District.

With a gift of $85,000, the Consortium created the Advanced STEM Access Program Support Fund. With these resources, the School of Education is creating a new position — executive director of the Mississippi Public School Consortium for Educational Access.

According to an agreement between the donor and the university, the faculty designee holding this new position will provide direction for the Consortium that will support advanced STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) instruction, including advanced placement (AP), in rural high schools that traditionally cannot offer such courses.

“We are very pleased to work with Ole Miss to help support our students and teachers,” said Scott County School District Superintendent Tony McGee.

The Advanced STEM Access Program, now in its fourth year, has proven innovative and effective in providing promising high school students access to courses they need to achieve their full potential.

“Working with the Global Teaching Project, which has provided resources and expertise to implement the program, Scott County and other districts participating in the Consortium have been able to provide our students remarkable learning opportunities,” McGee said.

Such opportunities include instruction from exceptional teachers, tutoring from college STEM majors across the country, residential programs at Mississippi universities, regular discussions with Nobel-Prize- winning and other prominent scientists, as well as textbooks, Chromebooks and extensive online resources.

According to the fund agreement, the new executive director will also be responsible for the following:

  • Developing and valuing high school teachers as STEM professionals
  • Supporting STEM classroom environments in Mississippi that empower students to be self-directed individuals
  • Assisting high school STEM teachers in developing the skills necessary to facilitate the advancement of advanced STEM courses in Mississippi schools
  • Amplifying best STEM teaching practices in Mississippi schools
  • Supporting students, teachers, tutors and administrators in the Consortium’s Advanced STEM Access Program and other Consortium initiatives

“This gift is very exciting not only for the School of Education but also for our state because it enables a partnership that will have a direct impact on the teaching and learning of STEM courses in many high schools in Mississippi. Additionally, it’s a collaboration that directly aligns with our goal to prepare quality teachers for the state and nation,” said David Rock, dean of the School of Education.

“This gives us a great opportunity to help make a transformative difference in the lives of the next generation while promoting the importance of quality STEM education.”

For more information on ways of supporting the university’s academic community, contact Charlotte Parks, vice chancellor for development, at [email protected] or 662-915-3120.

By Bill Dabney