Joe and Elizabeth Sweeney met while serving the state’s schoolchildren and earning master’s degrees in education at the University of Mississippi through the Mississippi Teacher Corps (MTC) more than 15 years ago.
On Giving Day, they pledged to give $60,000 back to the program that brought them together and launched their careers.
After earning a doctorate from the University of Memphis and working elsewhere in education, Joe Sweeney returned to Ole Miss to serve as director of the MTC. Elizabeth Sweeney is now pursuing a doctorate at the UM School of Education.
“It’s important to both of us to use our retirement savings and investments to give back to the Mississippi Teacher Corps after we’re gone,” Joe Sweeney said. “The program has meant a lot to us both personally and professionally, and we wanted to help ensure its viability as a permanent changemaker for the university and the state.”
The Sweeney’s gift was part of Giving Day, a social media-heavy fundraising event, that took place April 5. Giving Day lasted for one day, eight hours and 48 minutes in honor of UM’s founding in 1848. The first Giving Day at UM in 2019 secured almost $550,000, and the event has grown ever since.
The Mississippi Teacher Corps is an alternate-route graduate program at UM that prepares participants to be classroom teachers. Participants are placed in Mississippi public schools that are experiencing a teacher shortage.
MTC provides training, support, Mississippi teacher certification and a full scholarship for a Master of Arts in Teaching from the university. During the school year, participants receive full pay and benefits from their school districts and attend graduate classes at Ole Miss.
“Joe and Elizabeth saw this $60,000 gift designation as a way to ‘pay it forward,’ since that was the approximate amount of the scholarships they earned by participating in the program,” said Kelly Smith Marion, the associate development director for the School of Education. “They hope this Giving Day gift will inspire other alumni of the program to pay their scholarship forward by supporting more MTC students.”
For more information on ways of supporting the university, go to https://give.olemiss.edu.
By Staff Reports