Overview of the Conceptual Framework of the School of Education
William Carey University (WCU) is a private, nonprofit institution of higher learning dedicated to providing high quality education in a Christian environment. It is centrally located in the southern region of Mississippi. The main campus is in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, a branch campus is in Harrison County, Mississippi, and the school of nursing has a campus in New Orleans, Louisiana. The institution was founded in 1906 as South Mississippi College. In 1911, it became affiliated with the Mississippi Baptist Convention under the name Mississippi Woman’s College. In 1953 it returned to co-educational status under the name William Carey College reflecting the institution’s strong commitment to missions. In 2006 it achieved university status and adopted its current name.
WCU is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award bachelor, master, and specialist degrees and the doctor of osteopathic medicine degree. The university is organized into eight academic units: the Ralph and Naomi Noonkester School of Arts and Letters, the School of Natural and Behavioral Sciences; the School of Business; the School of Education; the Owen and Elizabeth Cooper School of Missions and Biblical Studies, the Donald and Frances Winters School of Music, the Joseph and Nancy Fail School of Nursing, and the College of Osteopathic Medicine.
The School of Education (SOE) is the largest of the eight academic units in the university, enrolling approximately one-third of the students in the entire university. Its programs are designed to prepare candidates to meet Mississippi state licensure requirements and train educators to work in K-12 schools in South Mississippi. The SOE provides training for professional educators through eight undergraduate programs leading to B.S., B.F.A, and B.M.E and twelve graduate programs leading to M.Ed., M.Ed. Alternate Route, and Ed.S. degrees. Undergraduate programs are offered in elementary education, secondary education (art, biology, English, mathematics, music, and social studies), special education (Endorsement Only), reading education (Endorsement Only), and physical education. Graduate programs are offered in educational leadership, elementary education, reading, special education, secondary education (music, biology, mathematics, social studies, and English), gifted education, and alternate route. The educational specialist program offers specialized concentrations in elementary education and in higher education administration. Since the SOE has a prominent presence within the university, other WCU academic units (excepting only the school of nursing and the college of medicine) cooperate closely with the SOE to provide support for the SOE programs through development and delivery of coursework for the liberal arts core curriculum and secondary education concentrations and through advisement of students, all in accordance with the mission, vision, philosophy, and goals of the SOE.
With the support of other WCU academic units, the SOE collaboratively developed a conceptual framework organized around a central theme of the caring teacher as a reflective decision maker (represented visually in Figure 1). The SOE desires to produce teachers who are caring, reflective, decision makers having knowledge gained through a strong liberal arts curriculum, content instruction in specialty areas, pedagogical studies in professional education, and significant pre-service experiences, all provided within the Christian environment of the university. The central theme serves as the foundation for the education program in course structure, teaching, evaluation of candidate performance, and assessment of the SOE programs with the goal of preparing desirable, credentialed, and effective teachers entering the professional community in an increasingly diverse and technological world.