School Department News

School of Education

Thursday, July 21, 2016 - 11:36am
When that final bell of the school year rings, studying is the last thing on many students’ minds as they head into summer vacation. But nearly 80 students recently spent three days at William Carey University studying, taking tests, and learning tips to improve their ACT scores.
ACT scores are a vital part of the enrollment criteria at colleges and universities and are also used when determining scholarship eligibility. “The value of the ACT is that it is the only test that puts money in your family’s pocket,” said Laurel School District Superintendent Dr. Chuck Benigno, who was one of the guest speakers during the camp.
Students took a pre-test at the beginning of camp to determine which subjects they needed help with. The remainder of the camp was spent in sessions on each subject area (English, reading, science and math) and learning test-taking strategies. At the conclusion of camp, the students took a post-test to see if their scores improved. The students showed an average increase of three points, with the average test score increasing from 16 on the pre-test to 19 on the post-test. The goal is to help students reach a score of 21. In 2014, the national average ACT score was 21; the average Mississippi score was 19.
“I learned a lot of good test-taking strategies, not just for the ACT but for other tests. The strategies make the test seem so much easier than before,” one student wrote on the camp evaluation. Other students said the camp helped them learn how to read graphs, how to stay focused, and how to manage their time when taking the test. 
Forty-nine students attended the camp at the Hattiesburg campus June 1-3, and 30 attended the Tradition campus camp held June 6-9. WCU offers the camp each summer and generally tries to schedule the camp the week before the national exam so students can go take the test while the information is fresh in their minds. There is no cost for the students to participate in the camp. 
For more information, contact the William Carey University School of Education at 601-318-6600.
Wednesday, June 22, 2016 - 11:17am
Seven William Carey University graduate students have received scholarships from the Mississippi Professional Educators (MPE). 
The organization awards scholarships each year to MPE members who wish to pursue graduate or advanced studies at a college or university in Mississippi. “These scholarships enable our members to improve their practice, which benefits not only our members, but their students, as well,” said Kelly Riley, MPE executive director. “Our scholarships are one of several ways we support our members’ continued growth as both professionals and lifelong learners. I love calling our members to share that they have been awarded a scholarship, as the excitement in their voices is so refreshing and encouraging.”
Christy Lewis was one of the WCU students selected to receive a $1,000 graduate scholarship this year. She is an elementary school science and math teacher and is pursuing a Specialist Degree in educational leadership. “There are not many scholarship opportunities available for graduate students, so I was very encouraged that MPE supports educators in this capacity as we continue our educational studies," she said. "This is just one of the many ways that MPE helps meet the needs of educators across our state.”
Scholarship recipient Terri Thornton is an assistant principal at Madison Crossing Elementary School. She said William Carey University and Mississippi Professional Educators helped her reach one of her life goals. “My belief is that as long as you are living, you must keep learning. WCU has allowed me to further my education in spite of my busy schedule. By being awarded one of the MPE graduate scholarships, I was able to take an additional course this summer. It is because of great universities such as WCU and organizations like MPE that allow many individuals to become life-long learners.”
According to MPE, 29 members applied for graduate scholarships. Ten scholarships were awarded, with two awarded to the highest ranked applicants from each of Mississippi's four congressional districts, as well as two scholarships to the highest ranked applicants in the remaining pool of applications (the state at large). 
Dr. Ben Burnett, dean of the WCU School of Education, said the university appreciates the support and professional resources MPE provides students and graduates. “With very little assistance for graduate course work available, we are happy that our graduate students have this opportunity to apply for financial help to further their education. We are also very proud that WCU is represented with such a large number of recipients.” 
The 2016 scholarship recipients are:
  • Meghan Cates, an assistant principal at Mooreville Elementary School.  She attends William Carey University and resides in Mooreville.
  • Penny Hill, a director of curriculum and personnel in the Louisville Municipal School District. She attends Mississippi State University and resides in Louisville.
  • Christy Lewis, a fourth-grade math and science teacher at Pearl Upper Elementary. She attends William Carey University and resides in Brandon.
  • Kristi McMillan, a fifth-grade math teacher at Pearl Upper Elementary. She attends William Carey University and resides in Pearl.
  • Katie Moore, a special education teacher at Greene County High School. She attends William Carey University and resides in Leakesville.
  • Leigh Anne Newton, a chief academic officer in Lee County Schools. She attends the University of Mississippi and resides in Guntown.
  • Jeannie Pruitt, an English and language arts teacher at Waynesboro Middle School. She attends William Carey University and resides in Waynesboro.
  • Stephanie Querns, a student services specialist at Oak Grove High School. She attends the University of Southern Mississippi and resides in Hattiesburg.
  • Allison Sabbatini, a third-grade math, science, and social studies teacher at South Jones Elementary School. She attends William Carey University and resides in Laurel.
  • Terri Thornton, an assistant principal at Madison Crossing Elementary School.  She attends William Carey University and resides in Canton.
For more information about MPE, visit For more information about graduate programs available at William Carey University, visit
Friday, June 3, 2016 - 11:55am
A new report from Best College Values ranks William Carey University as number five on a national list of the most affordable online master’s degrees in elementary education.
The objective of the master’s degree in elementary education is to help teachers build their skills in order to create positive changes in their classrooms and school districts. “The classes are delivered in a fully online format that is perfect for the working student who wants to take their education to the next level,” said Dr. Ben Burnett, dean of the WCU School of Education. 
The master’s degree in elementary education requires 30 hours of course work and may be completed in 15 months. Students may begin the program any term. The program engages students in the most current research, technology, and evidence-based best practices in working with children at all levels to reach their highest potential. Students will also have the opportunity to build a portfolio of materials to use in day-to-day instruction.
Students who complete a degree in elementary education can find work as elementary school teachers, curriculum directors, educational consultants, interventional specialists, educational researchers, community college instructors, and evaluation specialists. 
Tuition for Carey’s online master’s in elementary education program is $9,900, not including fees. Data for the Best Value ranking was derived from university websites and from U.S. News and World Report, which ranks Carey as the #25 best online graduate education program.
“It is our goal to provide quality programs that are affordable,” said Carey President Tommy King. “This number five national ranking recognizes our efforts.”
For more information about William Carey University’s online master’s degree in elementary education, contact Terry Ingram at or visit
Wednesday, May 25, 2016 - 3:46pm
The William Carey University School of Education is now offering two new advanced degrees for educators working with children with emotional or behavioral disorders and a new concentration for early childhood education.
Beginning in August 2016, the school will begin offering Master in Education and Education Specialist degrees in emotional and behavioral disorders. The degrees will prepare teachers or mental health practitioners to develop and implement instructional plans and monitor children and youth with emotional and/or behavioral disorders in schools and residential facilities.
“The new master’s and specialist degree programs in emotional and behavioral disorders will fulfill a tremendous need in this critical shortage area of teaching,” said Dr. Brenda Thomas, associate professor of education in the department of special education and educational leadership. “The program will provide the necessary instruction, practicums, and internships to enable teacher candidates to fill a void in Mississippi for behavior specialists and day treatment teachers in public schools, while adding to the expertise of practitioners in institutions and related environments.”
Both degrees require 30 hours of course work including a practicum and internship. The education classes will be offered online in order to accommodate working professionals. Students can complete the program in 18 months (five terms). The degrees are designed to allow students to progress through the program at an individual pace within six years of initial enrollment at William Carey University. Students also have the option to pursue or renew an add-on teaching endorsement in emotional and behavioral disorders. The endorsement requires 12 hours (4 courses) in emotional and behavioral disorders. 
The School of Education pursued adding these degrees after receiving requests for this type of instruction from teachers and mental health professionals in the area as well as the Gulf Coast, Jackson, and the Millcreek Rehabilitation Center, which operates five centers across the state. According to the Mississippi Data Profile Report, the rate of students with emotional and behavioral disorders increased from 0.22% in 2002 to 0.62% in 2011. The increase represents 1,958 students over the nine-year period. The Mississippi Department of Education job postings show this certification as a critical needs degree.
Early Childhood Education Concentration
The School of Education has also added early childhood education as a concentration area for students pursuing their undergraduate degree. There is a growing need across the state for preschool education and early intervention in the areas of reading, math, health and nutrition.
 The concentration requires 21 hours of course work and will prepare students to work with preschool age children. The curriculum focuses on the social, physical, emotional and academic growth of children, particularly from birth to age five. In addition to preschool teacher or assistant teacher, some of the career areas this concentration applies to are family services worker, child care administrator/director, social services coordinator, nanny, coach, playground aide, and family child care home owner. 
For more information about these programs, contact Brenda Thomas, coordinator of special education, at 601-318-6605 or email
Tuesday, May 10, 2016 - 4:00pm
The Mississippi Program of Research and Evaluation for Public Schools (PREPS) announced May 10 that William Carey University in Hattiesburg has been selected as the new headquarters for the program.
“PREPS is excited about associating with William Carey University to work to improve teaching and learning in Mississippi,” said Dr. Lee Childress, president of the PREPS board of directors. “William Carey University is recognized for its outstanding educational programs and with it expanding the focus statewide it is a natural fit for this partnership with PREPS, Mississippi's largest statewide educational consortium.”
PREPS was organized in 1976 and the membership currently includes 72 school districts from across the state. The non-profit organization is governed by a nine-member board of directors made up of superintendents from each of the old congressional districts. PREPS was previously housed at Mississippi State and the board voted last week to move the program to WCU.  
“The William Carey University School of Education is honored and excited to now be the home of PREPS as we continue to advance the mission of the university in the areas of scholarship and service,” said Dr. Ben Burnett, dean of the School of Education. “We are also happy that it allows us to better serve the districts across the state of Mississippi and work as partners to improve education in our state.”  
Burnett said after spending 28 years in K-12 education in Mississippi he understands the need for intense professional development and collaboration for teachers across the state. Burnett is also a former PREPS board member and knows first-hand the quality of the services offered by this prestigious organization.
Childress said, “Dr. Ben Burnett has provided exceptional leadership at William Carey University and PREPS looks forward to working with him and William Carey University in providing services to Mississippi school districts.”
WCU President Dr. Tommy King said, “The decision by PREPS to partner with William Carey is another indicator of the strength of our school of education.  I am confident that this will be a very fruitful partnership.”