WCU Ben Burnett

Ben Burnett, dean of the WCU School of Education, is shown at a gathering Monday afternoon with two faculty members, Dr. Chuck Benigno, former superintendent of the Laurel School District, and Dr. Linda Smith, former superintendent of the Lumberton School District.

William Carey University President Dr. Tommy King announces that WCU’s School of Education has grown to be the largest in the state, with 521 undergraduate and graduate students earning degrees in 2018.

The announcement comes after data for academic year 2017-18 was posted in late January by the U.S. Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and confirmed through the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning’s website.

According to the data, William Carey University out-performed the next-largest school of education by almost 70 graduates. Of the top five schools of education in Mississippi, two showed decreases in number of education graduates in 2018.

“The teacher shortage is alarming and we’re very focused on helping solve the problem. All of our faculty members had careers in K-12 education before joining William Carey. On average, they have 27 years of experience in K-12 education. We are all passionate about helping the schools in our state,” said Dr. Ben Burnett, dean of the WCU School of Education.

“Having the largest number of graduates from the combination of our graduate and undergraduate programs is encouraging to us, but we still have a long way to go to make a truly significant impact on the teacher shortage.”

Burnett said the WCU School of Education seeks practical ways to tackle the problem. Recent projects, large and small, undertaken by his faculty include: 

*Last year, WCU received a three-year $600,000 grant from the Mississippi Department of Education to pilot a “teacher residency” program for undergraduate students in partnership with two Gulf Coast school districts;

*William Carey has entered into partnerships with several school systems to offer “alternate route” programs to help people who have a bachelor’s degree earn teaching certificates;

*Through a scholarship program, William Carey is helping assistant teachers complete their degrees and earn teaching certificates; and

*WCU and Pearl River Community College partner on a program that allows community college graduates to remain on the Pearl River campus while working with William Carey faculty toward a bachelor’s degree.

“I congratulate Dr. Ben Burnett and his team for becoming the largest school of education in the state of Mississippi, public or private. This honor is due to the hard work of every faculty and staff member in the school of education,” said King.

Undergraduate enrollment in education is still climbing at William Carey University – last fall WCU posted a record 25 percent enrollment increase over the prior year.

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