School Department News


Tuesday, March 31, 2015 - 4:31pm
William Carey University crowned the 2014-2015 Homecoming Court during Homecoming activities on Friday and Saturday, March 27-28.
Tiffany Hooper of State Line was crowned Homecoming Queen. Senior maids were Willa-Ann Renard of Cushing, Okla., and Emily Goff of Vancleave. Junior maids were Conner Sears of Columbia and Kristel Rodriguez of Laurel. Sophomore maids were Leah Smith of Raymond and McKayla Strebeck of Seminary. Freshman maids were Claresta Tasman of Paramaribo, Suriname, and Lindsay Knight of Hattiesburg.
Crowned Mr. and Miss William Carey University were Ben Austin of Zachary, La., and Hannah Cook-Kelly of Jayess.
Tuesday, March 31, 2015 - 9:33am
William Carey University inducted four graduates, including Dr. Adam Breerwood, Vermester Jackson Bester, Carl Merritt Jr. and Dr. Eric Joseph Williams, into the Alumni Hall of Fame during a Homecoming awards banquet at Southern Oaks House and Gardens in Hattiesburg on Friday, March 27.
Dr. Breerwood is a two-time graduate of Carey, earning a bachelor's degree in social science in 1997 and a master's degree in education in 1999. He earned his doctoral degree in higher education administration from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2003. He currently serves as vice president for the Poplarville campus and Hancock Center of Pearl River Community College. Among his numerous honors include being recognized by the Mississippi Business Journal as one of Mississippi's top 40 business leaders under the age of 40 in 2013. He has also been named by Rotary International as a Paul Harris Fellow in 2013 and was a graduate of the Mississippi Economic Council's Leadership Mississippi class of 2010. A former baseball player at both PRCC and Carey, Dr. Breerwood was inducted into the PRCC Sports Hall of Fame in 2005.
Bester was one of the first two African-American students admitted to Carey in 1965. She graduated in 1969 with a bachelor's degree in mathematics and started a 35-year-career with the Hattiesburg Public School District. During those years, she served as a teacher, department chair and academic coach. In 1978, she earned a master's degree from USM. She has also taught math at McKinney Independent School District and as an adjunct instructor of math at USM. Since retiring from Hattiesburg schools, Bester has served as an independent math consultant and currently consults for four Mississippi school districts. During her teaching career, Bester was selected as Teacher of the Year for both Hattiesburg High School and Mary Bethune Alternative School. She has also been awarded the Euro award honoring integration pioneers and the Teacher of the Year Award by the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Mu Gamma Lambda Chapter.
Merritt earned a bachelor's degree in physical education from Carey in 1978, the master of administration and supervision degree from Southeastern Louisiana University in 1985 and the specialist's degree in education from Carey in 1990. He has been superintendent of the Poplarville School District since 2007 and previously served as assistant superintendent and principal of Poplarville High School. He is currently secretary of the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents and was elected president-elect for 2015-2016. During his tenure as principal, Poplarville High received the rating of Level 5, the highest possible rating for high schools in Mississippi. The school was also recognized as a Blue Ribbon School, one of the highest honors a high school can receive, prompting Merritt's recognition by then-U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings. Merritt is also a board member for the Pearl River County Crime Stoppers.
Dr. Williams earned the bachelor's degree in nursing from Carey in 1986 and later earned a master's degree in nursing with a focus in adult health from the University of South Alabama College of Nursing. Currently, he serves as the assistant director and faculty leader of health sciences and as a professor of nursing at Santa Monica College in California. In 2007, Williams earned a doctoral degree in nursing practice from the Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio. He is the first vice president of the National Black Nurses' Association Board of Directors and has served as president of the Council of Black Nurses in Los Angeles and the New Orleans Black Nurses' Association. Williams has presented locally and nationally on a variety of health-related topics and has been featured on CNN for a segment on health care reform, along with being featured in the publication Minority Nurse.
Prior to the presentation of the Hall of Fame inductees, Dr. Tommy King, president of Carey, gave a State of the University address. Pam Shearer, annual fund director, presented Legacy Awards in honor of Sarah Gray Burrus, registrar from 1959-1997; Georgiann Holliman, instructor of English from 1966-1988; Dr. Don Stewart, professor of religion from 1963-1978; and Dr. David Yang, professor of education from 1956-1967. The Legacy Awards honor faculty and staff members who have left a legacy of leadership or learning because of their investment in students' lives.
Friday, February 27, 2015 - 3:40pm
The William Carey University music therapy program has entered into its 40th decade of providing a quality education to students interested in using their musical talents to enhance the lives of others.
A reception was held at the Hattiesburg campus on February 26 to honor the program’s 40th anniversary. The program was established in 1974 as an initiative of Dr. Don Winters, then-dean of the School of Music. Dr. Paul Cotten, a noted music therapist, psychologist and then-director of Ellisville State School, was employed to head up the program and recruit the first students.
“Dr. Winters was a very creative, innovative fellow who was very interested in doing good,” said Dr. Cotten, who retired as full-time faculty from Carey in 2014 and is now an adjunct professor. “He learned about music therapy because I was speaking about it around the area at the time … and he thought the program was needed at Carey.”
Music therapy, defined by the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) as the “clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional,” was not an easy program to establish at Carey, with only five students enrolling in the first year. The program was one of just a few in the United States at the time and faced a strong lack of knowledge and a lack of financial resources from employers possibly interested in hiring music therapists.
“In the 1970s, there were limited funds for mental health and people weren’t sure about hiring music therapists,” said Dr. Cotten.
Despite the challenges, Dr. Cotten moved forward in developing the program with the assistance of registered music therapist and fellow professor Carylee Hammons. The two worked to expand opportunities for music therapy students to intern in areas around the United States. In 1989, the program had dropped to just three students, leading to the possibility of its cancellation. Instead of a cancellation, Dr. Cotten found renewed support from the Carey administration.
Their support – and Dr. Cotten’s persistence – paid off. The music therapy program now has over 30 students and is one of just 73 programs in the United States with coveted AMTA-approved status.
The profession in the early 1970s was then, and is often now, misunderstood or viewed as a type of recreational activity with no serious benefit to the receiver of the therapy. Most people do not realize the scientifically-proven benefits, said Jim Pierce, assistant professor of music therapy and the current head of the program at Carey.
“Music therapy is essentially using music in a therapeutic way to achieve a non-musical goal,” said Pierce. “The benefits can be enormous and can help people of all ages.”
A good example of the power of music therapy can be found in pain management. Students in Carey’s program work with the pediatric unit at Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg and often find themselves helping a toddler who is hurting.
“If a toddler is having a wound dressed and is in pain, we use music to function as a distraction,” said Pierce. “If the doctor or nurse is working on the child’s right side, we’ll play music on the left side to help him get through the procedure.”
Music therapy students also work with the oncology unit, helping those with major medical issues cope with the situation. The students engage the patient through activities such as sing-alongs and lyric writing, helping a patient put their feelings into words that can then be put to music. These activities can shift the patient’s mood and help manage stress, said Pierce.
Research published by the AMTA and others indicates the benefits of music therapy in multiple areas. Studies show that music therapy can help rehabilitate those with serious medical issues, such as acquired brain injury. An example can be found in the treatment of former U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Giffords, shot in the head during a 2011 political rally in her home state of Arizona, received music therapy to help regain her speech.
Music therapy can be applied to patients with Parkinson’s disease to improve motor function, to older adults to lessen the effects of dementia, to children and adults to reduce asthma episodes, to children with autism to improve their communication capabilities, to premature infants to improve their sleep patterns and increase their weight gain … the possibilities can be endless, said Pierce, and can apply to countless other situations, such as adults with intellectual disabilities.
Carey students, through a program known as “Harnessing Adults’ Full Potential Through Music Therapy,” provide music therapy services to intellectually-disabled adults in day rehabilitation centers. The goal of the program is to improve these adults’ quality of life and social skills. Students work with the adults through activities such as playing instruments and by participating in drum circles to learn self-expression techniques.
Carey students are also involved with the Children’s Center for Communication and Development at the University of Southern Mississippi, where they work as part of an interdisciplinary team to benefit children up to five years of age. As part of the team, the students use their training and musical abilities to complement the work of others on the team, such as occupational and physical therapists.
The demand for Carey students to work in local programs is strong, said Pierce.
“Our students are respected and very much desired by local organizations,” he said. “They seek out areas to assist in the community … and we’ve found that local agencies are very anxious for us to engage with them.”
In addition to assisting with local organizations, Carey students often intern in other areas. Hannah Melancon Kennedy, a senior music therapy major from Eunice, La., interned with Baptist Global Response in Bangalore, India, during the summer of 2013. During the internship, Kennedy used music therapy techniques to treat patients suffering from diseases including terminal cancer and cerebral palsy. Techniques employed in treating these patients included using music to calm 6-year-old Iver, suffering from Burkitt lymphoma; using shakers and rhythm sticks to soothe patients going through breathing treatments; and playing rhythmic beats to help physical therapy patients steady their breathing patterns.
Organizations interested in Carey music therapy students find those students having a strong mix of academic training and skills. Students majoring in music therapy receive “almost a double major” between music and psychology, said Pierce.
“It’s a difficult path for someone to go down,” he said. “In addition to the music therapy classes, students have to take courses like human anatomy and physiology, abnormal psychology and statistics.”
Upon completion of the bachelor’s degree program, students are eligible to take the national board certification examination and can receive the professional credential, MT-BC (music therapist/board certified). Various job outlook websites rank music therapy as a “hot career” and have indicated there are more jobs available than there are music therapists to fill them.
Many Carey music therapy alumni have gone on to successful careers. Helen Driskell Chetta, one of the first music therapy graduates, went on to be a Rotary Scholar in England, received her master’s degree in music therapy from Florida State University and has enjoyed a successful career. Additionally, Lori Parker, a 2000 graduate, and Nicole Ribet, a 2013 graduate, founded Ribet Rhythms Music Therapy Services, the first private practice of its kind in the state.
“Our program has always been recognized as a very good program, locally and on the national level,” said Dr. Cotten. “It’s been a pleasure to watch the program grow to its current status.”
Pierce said he is optimistic about the future of the program.
“We have many good students and great connections in the community and on a national level,” he said. “The program is a real success story.”
Wednesday, October 29, 2014 - 3:37pm
Author, educator and 1994 William Carey University graduate Nathan Barber recently published a new book, What Teachers Can Learn from Sports Coaches: A Playbook of Instructional Strategies, a guide for teacher improvement based on wisdom of great coaches.
The book, published by Routledge Education, demonstrates how many of the principles of coaching can be used by teachers to motivate students, build community and enhance teaching. Barber shares teaching wisdom gleaned from interviews with numerous highly successful coaches, including state champions, national champions and even Olympic champions.
Barber is an educator with 20 years of experience and the author of more than a dozen educational books. He is currently a high school principal in Houston, Texas. Prior to becoming a principal, he was a social studies teacher and a high school basketball coach.
The book is available now in paperback and via Amazon Kindle, NOOK or Apple iBooks. For more information about Barber, visit