April 21, 2019  

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USM School of Education Announces New Leadership and Vision for Upcoming Academic Year

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The School of Education at The University of Southern Mississippi is pleased to announce a new leadership team, formed under recently appointed Director Dr. Sandra Nichols. The completed team will enhance the school’s recommitment to community partnerships with state school districts and realignment as the prominent producer of educators for the State of Mississippi.

The leadership team for the School of Education consists of Associate Director and Teaching Professor Dr. Noal Cochran and Associate Director and Associate Professor Dr. Myron Labat.

Cochran, a native of Richton, Miss., received doctoral degrees from USM in 2009 (Education Specialist) and 2011 (Doctor of Philosophy) after receiving two graduate degrees from USM in 1990 (Science Education) and 1999 (Marriage and Family Therapy). Labat, a native of Bay St. Louis, Miss., earned doctoral and graduate degrees from Southern Miss in 2003 and 1999. Both associate directors began in their respective positions in the School of Education on July 1.

Nationally, the number of students choosing to pursue degrees in education are falling. Mississippi has seen the same trends around teacher education over the past several years.

Dr. Trent Gould, Interim Dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences, noted, “At Southern Miss, our goal is to address these challenges within Mississippi by strengthening our community partnerships and engaging stakeholder groups to prepare students to seek degrees in teacher education. Additionally, we will be working closely with the Mississippi Department of Education and key legislators on state education policies that can help Mississippi address its real teacher shortage crisis.”

To that end, the School of Education’s leadership team has been busy traveling during the last month as it begins to develop important partnerships locally and around the state. In addition to an on-going tour of Pine Belt schools and administrations, the leadership team has attended the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education Leadership Academy, the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents/ Alliance Summer Convention, and the Mississippi Department of Education’s Elevate Teacher Conference.

Dr. Nichols and her team will also begin a tour of the Mississippi Gulf Coast school districts later in the fall, during which they hope to expand partnerships with USM’s School of Education.

 “Establishing meaningful relationships with key groups across the state keeps us abreast of the changing landscape of education in the state, nation, and beyond,” said Nichols. “Consequently, we are also able to pair evidence-based best practice with the educational needs identified within our state to ensure that our graduates are prepared to address those needs once they are leading their own classrooms.”

For more information about the School of Education at USM, visit https://www.usm.edu/education-human-sciences