William Carey University School of Education - Pandemic Partnership Response

William Carey University School of Education with Jackson Public School District, McComb School District, Meridian School District, Holly Spring School District, Marshall County School District, and Benton County School District. William Carey University's MAT/Alternate Route department has personally reached out to EVERY school district in the state and invited them to form a partnership with the department.

It is no secret that there is a current teacher shortage in the state of Mississippi. William Carey University's Education Department has a desire to assist the schools in Mississippi by producing quality teachers who have a passion and talent for fill this critical need. The Alternate Route program at William Carey has especially gone above and beyond to work directly with school districts to fight this teacher

The MAT/Alternate Route program is a program that allows individuals with a bachelor's degree in something other than education to obtain a teaching license. Once students are admitted to this program, the Alternate Route department at WCU personally helps them through the process of being admitted, becoming highly qualified to teach, and licensed. The Alternate Route program is also called the MAT (Master's in the Art of Teaching) program because it not only leads to a teaching license, but it can also lead to an optional master's degree.

Due to the extreme teacher shortage, and Covid-related issues, William Carey University's MAT/Alternate Route department has personally reached out to EVERY school district in the state and
invited them to form a partnership with the department. When a school district makes a decision to form a cohort with the Alternate Route department, our MAT coordinator, Dr. Cassandra Weiss, works individually with them to meet their specific needs.

The school districts who have made an official decision to become partners with William Carey University have included Jackson Public Schools, Meridian Public Schools, McComb Public Schools, Holly
Springs Public Schools, Benton County Public Schools and Marshall County Public Schools. The administrators and human resource personal were invited to virtual meetings with the MAT Coordinator, the Dean of Education, and the Executive Vice President of the. university. During these meetings, our team worked with the school district to ensure that we understood their specific needs and formed a plan of action to begin our partnership.

For each of our partners, our MAT/Alternate Route team created social media graphics and began advertising our partnership in the specific community of the school district. We also contacted local radio stations, churches, and other community events to recruit teachers. The advertisements invited interested. individuals to attend an in-person interest meeting on the school grounds. Dr. Weiss and the team, traveled to each of the school campuses to conduct these meetings in-person and answer the individual questions of each interested candidate.

As community members began applying for the MAT/Alternate Route program, the team at WCU contacted each one of them personally and walked them through the admissions process, registered the for classes, and personally helped them through the licensure process acting as a liaison between the student and MDE's licensure department. From 2020-2022, over 800 new teachers have applied for a teaching license in the state of Mississippi because of the MAT/Alternate Route program.

When teacher candidates become part of this program, they are required to take two classes up front in. order to apply for a 3-year alternate route license. Our WCU Alternate Route program worked with each school district to communicate the progress of the teacher candidate and allow them to hire them on a contingency basis as they entered the program. Over 800 teacher candidates are now qualified to begin teaching. We also added a personal touch by obtaining specific information from each school district that was used to train the teachers prior to them entering the classroom.  Each teacher candidate was trained to create a Classroom Management plan, write lesson plans, and learn specific information about their new school district.

In order to apply for a 5-year license, the new teachers must complete an internship with WCU's MAT/Alternate Route program. This school year, we had a record breaking 320 teacher interns that
spanned from the northern most tip of Mississippi to the Gulf Coast. Our team expanded to hire additional faculty to accommodate this number of interns so that we can ensure each student received personal support. Our faculty members visited each teacher intern two or more times in his/her classroom, hosted 4 Saturday training seminars, and responded to weekly reflections for each student in addition to the regular coursework required. We also hold a follow up conference in June to provide ongoing support to our teachers even after they have completed the program.