Applications are now open for new candidates to the Mississippi Department of Education’s Mississippi Teacher Residency (MTR) program, where up to 200 aspiring educators can receive a graduate degree in elementary and secondary education and professional mentorship at no cost.
The priority deadline to submit applications is Feb. 15, 2023. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and either meet the minimum required passing score on the Praxis Core, have a 21 or higher on the ACT/SAT equivalent or have a 3.0 GPA (last 60 hours of coursework).
Last year, the MDE used $9.8 million of its American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds to award grants to five universities – Delta State University, Jackson State University, Mississippi State University, University of Southern Mississippi and William Carey University – in the MTR program over a two-year period. A total of 103 candidates were admitted with several MTR partner universities currently initiating a midyear application process.
In this next round, those universities will once again enroll diverse participants into their educator preparation programs to work toward their graduate degree and Mississippi teacher certification. Individuals accepted into the MTR program will receive full scholarships, testing fees, books and mentor stipends. MTR will include training alongside a mentor teacher, testing support, professional development, ongoing assessment and a commitment to teach in a geographical critical shortage district serving low-income children, racial/ethnic minorities and children with disabilities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Candidates admitted in the latest round of the MTR program should graduate by summer 2024.
When applying, applicants will indicate what university program they want to join and select up to two school district options to work in. Confirmed participating school districts are included in the application and will be updated as needed on the MTR website based on each university’s established process for selecting district partners in geographical critical shortage areas.
All complete applications will be provided to MTR universities to determine candidate eligibility. Eligible applications will then be provided to each candidate’s top-choice MTR partner school districts, which may then opt to interview applicants either in-person or virtually. After interviews are complete, the MDE will conduct a matching process based on information from MTR applicants, universities and school districts. Applicants will be notified of their possible acceptance into the MTR program by May 2023.
MDE’s Office of Teaching and Leading has operated MTR since 2018. MTR is one of the state’s strategies to address the national teacher shortage as well as expand and diversify the teacher pipeline, so all students have teachers who are well-prepared, appropriately licensed and can serve as role models. In previous years, MTR was funded by a $4.1 million grant from the Kellogg Foundation and available to undergraduate and graduate students, resulting in 92 participants, 43 of whom have graduated and received their teaching license thus far.
The National Center for Teacher Residencies recently featured two Mississippi State University MTR participants in a blog during American Education Week.
Jonnie Silva is a wife and mother of three, who is nearing the end of her first semester teaching kindergarten in the Starkville-Oktibbeha School District. She decided to pursue the MTR program for the work-life balance it provides to her and her family and to make a difference in children’s lives. She said, “I want them to know they can do anything that they put their minds to. I love being the person to make them smile each day. I leave work with a full heart and wake up the next day excited to do it all again.”
Kenya Hopson, who is anticipated to graduate in May 2023 and teach in the Kemper County School District, says she sought the MTR program because it would allow her to become a teacher of record, while being mentored. Hopson said, “I’m able to use the information I’m learning in real time. My conviction to become a teacher has grown, which has a large part to do with my mentor always being there and not giving up on me… Being teachers, we are influencers, nourishers, developers, impacting the world on different levels.”
For more information on the MTR program, visit mdek12.org/OTL/MTR. A direct link to the application is available here.