UCM's College of Education Reorganizes to Meet Future Needs
Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (May 30, 2008) – With a focus on preparing educators for the future, UCM's College of Education has completed departmental restructuring and other initiatives to ensure teacher education programs meet 21st century needs.
Input from the college’s new task forces as well as data collected from focus groups that included about 100 area public school administrators has provided the impetus for these changes. The new initiatives are being announced nearly a year and one-half after the formation of the college, which was created from the former College of Education and Human Services.
Two New Departments Formed
Mike Wright, dean of the College of Education, said efforts to advance teacher preparation include the establishment of two new academic departments, effective July 1. The new Department of Elementary and Early Childhood Education will be chaired by Sharon Lamson, a professor of elementary education who has chaired the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. Carl "Skip" Grigsby, associate professor of secondary/middle school education, will serve as chair of the new Department of Educational Foundations and Literacy.
Wright spoke about the need for creating the Department of Elementary and Early Childhood Education noting, "The former Department of Curriculum and Instruction was very large with multiple programs, so our goal was to bring focus to our individual programs and promote their stature and visibility."
The Department of Elementary and Early Childhood Education will encompass academic programs that prepare teachers of children from birth to grade six. Wright said establishing the new department is consistent with UCM ‘s longstanding tradition of preparing educators who are skilled at teaching young students – a tradition which dates back to when the university was a state normal school 137 years ago.
"We all know from research that those early years with children are so absolutely critical, not only to their success in school, but their success in life," Wright said. "So, we’re trying to bring increased focus to the importance of early childhood and elementary education and strengthen our programs."
Additional Changes Focus on Child and Family Issues
Previously part of Curriculum and Instruction, the Child and Family Development Program is moving to the Department of Educational Leadership and Human Development. This department is focused on human development lifespan issues as they relate to children and their families, rather than specifically addressing early childhood education, said Joyce Downing, associate dean of the College of Education and associate professor of special education.
"There are other programs in the Educational Leadership and Human Development area that have more of a lifespan or community focus, such as special education and counseling. They share a synergy," she said. "That is part of our goal, to put programs together that make the most sense."
The Middle School-Junior High School program is moving to the new Department of Educational Foundations and Literacy. This department will be the conduit to teacher education programs that involve other academic departments on campus. EFL will also play an instrumental role in the realignment of the core curriculum for the entire teacher education program on campus, an effort which actually began last fall. Required core courses will be offered in this department.
"Most of the teacher certification programs such as English, math, science, art, music, etc., are outside of our college. This new department provides a vehicle for more direct communication with other academic departments that offer those programs," Wright said.
Educational Technology Moves to Department of Career and Technology Education
Another significant program change in the college concerns the transfer of the Educational Technology Program to the Department of Career and Technology Education. Odin Jurkowski, associate professor of instructional technology, became department chair in January 2008. He coordinated Educational Technology when it was with the Department of Educational Leadership and Human Development, and was instrumental in launching the first Graduate Certificate in Online Teaching and Learning during the fall 2007 semester. The program will now be offered through CTE.
Wright said moving Educational Technology to CTE provides an opportunity to create synergy between that program and the Technology Education and Business Education programs, already available in the department.
"We want programs that work well together, and these three programs share a lot in common," he noted.
New Alliance Spearheads Innovation and Research
Other important initiatives include the recent development of the Alliance for Innovation and Research in Education. This group plays an instrumental role in helping the college to seek external funding for new projects such as the new Midwest Clinic for Autism Spectrum Disorders and existing centers such as the Regional Professional Development Center, Missouri Center for Career Education, and the Midwest Center for Charter Schools and Urban Education. These units keep UCM faculty connected to area public schools, and are instrumental in training people to work with teachers.
Wright said feedback from area educators who have been involved in focus groups and part of five task forces in the college are vital to the strategic planning process. The college must prepare current education students for teaching into the year 2040.
"When you think about how dramatic changes have been in the last 10 years, not just technology and societal changes, it makes you realize what an awesome responsibility we have for preparing the next generation," he remarked. "The task forces that we started with and changes in our strategic plan are a coordinated effort to make sure that UC'’s College of Education is as viable in the 21st century as it was 137 years ago."