The University of Mississippi School of Education has received five grants that total more than $5.7 million from the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation in Jackson to improve public education in the state.
One grant for $1.1 million will allow the school to hire three new faculty members who will help develop a new master’s degree and undergraduate emphasis in pre-kindergarten education.
David Rock, dean of the School of Education, emphasized the importance of improving pre-K education, especially in literacy.
“The earlier we get to our children and the more effective our early education is, the better prepared they will be to read,” Rock said. “The better prepared they are to read, the better success they’ll have in schools.”
Andrew Abernathy, communications specialist for the School of Education, said the Willie Price Lab School (WPLS) on campus will be instrumental in establishing this new early education curriculum.
“We want to create a model pre-K classroom so that what we learn there, in that classroom, can be taken and applied in our outreach throughout the state,” Abernathy explained. “That facility will play a big role in the development of our new pre-K programs.”
Angela Rutherford, associate professor of teacher education and director of the Center for Excellence in Literacy Instruction, said the preschool will also prepare the state’s future educators for careers in early childhood education.
“WPLS will serve as a field experience site for early childhood teacher candidates,” she said.
Other grants include funding for the School of Education’s Center for Mathematics and Science Education (CMSE) ($1.2 million), Center for Excellence in Literacy Instruction (CELI) ($1.5 million), Mississippi Teacher Corps ($525,000) and Principal Corps (1.5 million).