School Department News

School of Education

Tuesday, November 8, 2016 - 10:46am

The William Carey University School of Education will host the Gulf South Teaching Pedagogy Conference November 11-12. The conference theme is impacting classrooms by using pedagogy that promotes Common Core curriculum and learning mastery. 

Check-in will begin at 4:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 11 in the Student Conference Center on the WCU campus in Hattiesburg. Dr. Mark Yeager will open the conference with a presentation “Why did teaching choose you?” that will examine why certain people become teachers and why others should not consider teaching as a career.

Dinner will be served at 6 p.m. with greeting and introductions by Dr. Ben Burnett, dean of the WCU School of Education. The keynote speaker for the evening is 2016 Mississippi Teacher of the Year Jodi McKenzie. She will talk about inspirations, best practices, success stories and her platform as teacher of the year.

Saturday’s sessions will begin at 8:30 a.m. with tracks for elementary and secondary teachers and teacher candidates. These sessions are open to the general public at no charge on a first come-first serve basis for seating.

Recipients of the SMART grant for math and science will attend special sessions on “Manipulations in Math” and “Making Meaningful Connections through Integration” from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Dr. Liesa Weaver and Anna Beth Scott will present “A Snapshot of a Learning Community School” during a luncheon provided by WCU for pre-registered participants. The presentation will address how collaboration, shared leadership and ongoing learning can lead to school improvement and accountability. The presenters will share the key elements of a learning community school, and how one school in the Pine Belt is successfully implementing professional learning communities with all grade levels.

For more information, contact Tina Bond at or call (601) 318-6091. If you would like to attend the Saturday morning sessions, please complete the registration form and return as soon as possible. Forms may be emailed to Tina Bond, hand-delivered to WCU (Fairchild Hall, room 106F) or faxed to 601-318-6185. Dinner on Friday and lunch on Saturday are for pre-registered participants only.

The conference is sponsored by Pine Belt Phi Delta Kappa International and the Association of Mississippi Teacher Educators. 


Monday, October 31, 2016 - 2:29pm

The Mississippi Association of School Administrators (MASA) presented Dr. Ben Burnett the Golden Lamp Award during the fall leadership conference on October 18 in Jackson.


The Golden Lamp Award is presented each year to an individual or individuals who have shown outstanding support for Mississippi public education throughout his or her career as an educator, administrator, or leader in the educational arena.


Dr. Burnett is the dean of the School of Education at William Carey University. Before joining the faculty at Carey in 2014, he served 28 years in the K-12 education system as a teacher, principal and superintendent. During his first two years as dean, the School of Education reached record enrollments each year. This is due largely to the creation of new degrees that help meet the needs of educators and school systems across the state. The School of Education has also added a number of online degrees to accommodate the schedules of working professionals.


“William Carey is blessed with outstanding leadership in all areas. The School of Education has made great strides under the leadership of Dr. Ben Burnett, and we are pleased that the statewide organization of administrators has chosen Dr. Burnett as recipient of the Golden Lamp Award for 2016,” said WCU President Tommy King. 


Burnett received his bachelor’s and master’s degree in music education and his Ph.D. in educational administration from the University of Southern Mississippi. He spent 26 years in the Lamar County School system, including serving as the director of bands and principal of Oak Grove Middle School. He was elected superintendent of the Lamar County School District in 2007 and 2011. He was given the Mississippi School Board Association (MSBA) Beacon Award for Lamar County Schools in 2013, named Lamar Times Person of the Year in 2012, presented the MSBA Lantern Award for Lamar County Schools in 2009, 2010, and 2011, received the Mississippi Gifted Advocate Award in 2011, and was named Mississippi Middle School Principal of the Year, and Teacher of the Year for the Lamar County School District.


In presenting the award to Burnett, MASA Executive Director Lisa Karmacharya said, “He is, first and foremost, a man of great character, honesty and integrity.  He is a man people respect, look up to, and yes, even aspire to be like, a true southern gentleman. He is not perfect and will tell you that. He is humble and hard working. And he has a resume as long as my arm with awards and achievements and appointments that make him stand out among many. He is quiet but strong. He is in the truest sense, a leader and forever a champion for children.”

Thursday, September 8, 2016 - 11:33am
William Carey University’s School of Education has reached its highest enrollment on record with 1,319 students, exceeding last fall’s record of 1,270 students.
Dr. Ben Burnett, dean of the School of Education, attributes the growth to the school working to meet the needs of educators throughout the state and the addition of online classes which makes it easier for busy students to pursue their degrees. The School of Education has also seen the number of students pursuing doctoral degrees increase from 19 last fall to 90 this year.
“I am very proud that we are able to have an increased enrollment enabling us to train more teachers for the schools of Mississippi,” said Burnett. “Since 100 percent of the education faculty at WCU has experience in K-12 education, they are able to have a bigger impact on the teachers and leaders in today’s schools.”
In May, the School of Education was selected as the new headquarters for the Program of Research and Evaluation for Public Schools, which will give the faculty the opportunity to work with school districts across the state toward a common goal of improving education in Mississippi.
New Degrees
The school added Master in Education and Education Specialist degrees for teachers working with children who have emotional and behavioral disorders. “These degrees will fulfill a tremendous need in this critical shortage areas of teaching,” said Dr. Brenda Thomas, associate professor of education. The school also added early childhood education as a concentration area for students pursuing their undergraduate degree. There is a growing need in the state for preschool education and early intervention in the areas of reading, math, health and nutrition.
The enrollment growth can also be attributed to the Science and Mathematics Alternate Route Teacher (SMART) program, which began in 2015. The program is funded by a grant from the Robert M. Hearin Foundation and provides scholarships for non-education graduates wanting to enter the teaching field in the areas of mathematics and science. The program was initially funded for three years and has been extended for another year. The grant will fund approximately 20 scholarships each year; 33 students have received scholarships in the first two years of the grant.
Online Education
Providing online classes has also boosted the school’s enrollment. Online options include a bachelor’s degree in physical education, master’s degrees in education with multiple specialty areas, a specialist’s degree in instructional leadership, and a doctoral degree in educational leadership. Burnett said adding the new Doctor of Education in K-12 educational leadership program online has led to an increase in the number of students pursuing their doctoral degree. Additionally, numerous undergraduate and graduate programs are offered in hybrid formats, meaning some classes meet in person and some are online. 
“Having our online programs ranked in the top 25 in the country by “U.S. News and World Report” has helped boost enrollment in our online offerings,” Burnett said. “We are also happy to be able to take our programs online and face-to-face to school districts all across the state.”
Best College Values ranked Carey #5 on the list of “Most Affordable Online Master’s Degrees in Elementary Education in 2016.”
President Tommy King said Carey has long been known as a school that produces teachers. “Although we have expanded programs in recent years, teacher education still remains our largest school, and it is evident by these enrollment numbers that it will continue to produce quality teachers.”
For information about the School of Education and enrollment, visit or call 601-318-6600.
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