Posted on Apr 23, 2018
President Paula Brahan presided over today’s meeting.
Mike Ratliff gave today’s invocation and Garland Sullivan led us in the Pledge of Allegiance. Mike also reminded members to go on line and sign up as a volunteer to help with future meetings.
Rotarian Edward Bottomley was a visiting Rotarian from the Sierra Vista noon club. Edward is in Mississippi doing research on a book that he is currently writing.
Paula then introduced and welcomed District Governor Kathie Short. She encouraged every Rotarian to register and attend this year’s District Conference. The conference theme is “Making a Difference In Our World.” Four Districts from Mississippi and Alabama (6820, 6840, 6860, and 6880) are putting together this Multi-District Conference. The event will be held in Biloxi June 7 – 10. Rooms at the Beau Rivage should be booked as soon as possible.
Kathie also encouraged us to take advantage of the District’s Rotary Foundation point matching program. If you make a $100 contribution to the Foundation before the end of May your contribution will be matched by 100 points. There are over 50 thousand points to be awarded.
Kathie also that the Rotary fight against Polio continues. In 2016 there were 37 cases reported worldwide. That declined to just 22 cases in 2017. Thus far this year there are only 6 new cases that have been reported. She encouraged members to continue to make contributions to the Foundation for the Polio fight. She also noted that Rotary’s Polio work will be highlighted during this year’s District Conference.
Paula then introduced today’s guest speaker, Dr. Ben Burnett. Dr. Burnett is the Dean of the School of Education. He began his tenure as Dean of the William Carey University School of Education in 2014.  His service to the field of education began in 1986 and since that time he has worked with the students of south Mississippi as a band director, middle school principal, and superintendent. WCU began licensing teachers in 1920.
Dr. Burnett says William Carey University is the oldest school in South Mississippi offering teacher degrees. The school first began the program in 1892. William Carey education major students have an average ACT score of 24. The University has also been named the safest college campus in Mississippi. The University has a student enrollment of more than 4,600 and one-third of them are in the School of Education. The School now offers 5 online graduate degrees. All of the instructors in the School have experience in K-12 education. The instructors average 21 years of teaching experience in the K-12 system.
Dr. Burnett noted that Mississippi and the nation are faced with a teacher shortage crisis that seems to be worsening rather than improving. A teacher shortage is going to have a negative impact on the economy since teachers are the foundation for all other careers. Statistics have proven that the number one economic impact factor is having a quality classroom teacher.    
In 2007 Mississippi licensed 7,620 teachers. That dropped to just 603 in 2017. Of the 603, William Carey University graduates represented 28.5%.
A number of reasons are thought to be the cause of this teacher shortage. There is a negative public perception that teaching is a bad career choice. There is also the perception that teacher pay is poor. Although there are problems with teacher pay and the way they are paid, Dr. Burnett reported that a 22-year-old right out of college with an undergraduate degree will start at $36,000  a year with full insurance and retirement benefits.
WCU is doing a number of things to help fight the teacher shortage and continues to look for sponsorships to help offset and pay for some of these programs. Visit their website at for more information.
With no other business to discuss, the meeting was adjourned by Paula with our motto, “Service Above Self.”