MU Partners With Missouri Schools for Rejuvenation of Education
St. Louis and Kansas City school districts face problems affecting student success
March 11, 2009
Story Contact: Jeffrey Beeson, (573) 882-9144, BessonJ@missouri.edu
COLUMBIA, Mo. - Knowledge is power and key to many of life's successes. However, urban youth are missing the opportunity to effectively tackle the academic challenges of college because they were not adequately prepared. Now, a team of University of Missouri faculty in the College of Education have partnered with St. Louis and Kansas City school districts in a mission to assure that Missouri's urban children are given opportunities to succeed.
"What we're working toward is called simultaneous renewal. This partnership was formed to impact the teacher development program as well as the students' learning environment," said Dan Lowry, co-director of the MU Partnership for Educational Renewal (MPER).
Through dialogue sessions, MU undergraduates share their experiences regarding college preparation and the expectations of their university professors compared to their high school teachers. In addition, MU faculty members discuss urban education problems and current research in the College of Education. This information is shared with district administration to assist the administrators with evaluating and effecting positive changes in curriculum and teaching methods for students.
The MU team also is implementing renewal goals through the "Senior Year-On Site" and the "MU Teaching Fellows" programs in St. Louis and Kansas City. The "Senior Year-On Site" program gives students the opportunity to conduct a year of hands-on training with guidance from a mentor. The program allows students to immerse themselves into the life and culture of an entire school community while taking on the responsibilities of their own classrooms. The "MU Teaching Fellows" program offers support for teachers in their first year and an opportunity to earn a master's degree. Kansas City business leaders recognized the value of this program and donated $10,000 to attract fellows to their school districts and provide housing scholarships.
"School districts across the country, including those in the St. Louis and Kansas City areas, have experienced miscommunication within the districts, a shortage of teachers and a high turnover of administration," Lowry said. "When students are having a new principal each of their four years of high school or a new teacher in the middle of the year, the relationship between child and educator is never established. These problems are contributing to student inability to meet expectations of college professors, while limiting opportunities for success after graduating high school and entering college."
In order to achieve a rejuvenation of educational institutions, policies and programs must be established that focus on student achievement and quality teacher preparation in the urban areas of St. Louis and Kansas City. Therefore, it is necessary to identify problems of practice, complete evaluation reports and develop unique field experiences for teachers while supporting the collaborative efforts of stakeholders that focus on teacher quality and preparation, Lowry said.
In addition to the new partnership with Kansas City and St. Louis, the MPER program works with 20 other Missouri school districts, affecting more than 194,000 students. The MPER is a member of the National Network for Educational Renewal.