Southeast Partners with Fort Zumwalt School District to ‘Grow Teachers’

Photo of Fort Zumwalt School District students touring the Southeast campus

Fort Zumwalt School District students toured the Southeast Missouri State University campus March 10 as part of the “Grow Your Own Teacher” Program.

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo.,

March 20, 2009 – Thirty-two high school students and 13 teachers and administrators representing four high schools from Fort Zumwalt School District visited Southeast Missouri State University on March 10 as part of the district’s “Grow Your Own Teacher” program.

The Fort Zumwalt visitors spent their day at Southeast learning about the University and the College of Education, touring the campus, and meeting with faculty and students.

The goal of the “Grow Your Own Teacher” program, which was first offered by the Fort Zumwalt School District in 2006, is to recruit and retain future teachers for the district in the critical shortage areas of foreign language, math, science, special education and industrial technology. Students participating in the program are juniors and seniors in one of the district’s four high schools who have shown an interest in becoming a teacher in one of these areas. Fort Zumwalt School District awards scholarships of $6,000 each year for four years in exchange for the student’s promise to return to the district as a teacher upon graduation.  The district finances the scholarship program with fund raising activities through their educational foundation and payroll deductions from faculty and staff.

Three students who were previously selected by the Fort Zumwalt School District for the program currently attend Southeast.

While the students in this year’s program have visited several universities, and those selected for the scholarship can choose the university they wish to attend, the Southeast visit offered much more than just a campus tour, according to Dr. Margaret Noe, dean of the College of Education. This year’s “Grow Your Own Teacher” day at Southeast was the first time the University held a formal event for the program, in response to an inquiry from Dr. Bernie Du Bray, the superintendent of the Fort Zumwalt School District, and a Southeast alumnus.  As a result of that meeting, the College of Education and the Office of Admissions designed an induction program for prospective education majors to highlight the strengths of academic and student life programs at Southeast, Noe said.

Fort Zumwalt students had the opportunity to learn about the University’s programs in the critical shortage areas from faculty and students currently teaching and studying those areas, allowing the students to determine their level of interest in pursuing a career as an educator. The district’s teachers and administrators also had the opportunity to collaborate with their peers at the University, and to learn and share ideas in their mutual areas of interest.

“It was a true collaboration between our faculty and theirs; our students and theirs,” Noe said. 

Dr. Patty Corum, deputy superintendent at Fort Zumwalt and coordinator of the program thanked the University administration and faculty for making their students and faculty feel welcome at Southeast. 

“This is what we dreamed about achieving five years ago, and now it has come to fruition with the partnership with the College of Education at Southeast,” Corum said.

Southeast’s participation in the program could ultimately help local school districts as well, according Noe.

“These same critical shortage areas exist in our local districts as well,” Noe said. “Some of these students who aren’t selected for the Fort Zumwalt scholarship may still choose to study education at Southeast and then decide to stay and teach in the area after graduation.”

Southeast’s College of Education also hopes to expand the program to include other p-12  school districts in the region as well, and is currently sharing information about the program with several districts in the area. 

“The College has plans to further develop teacher leadership opportunities through the program with Fort Zumwalt next year and possibly connect to the University’s Emerging Leaders program,” Noe said. “The ‘Grow Your Own Teacher’ event was a great day for education and teacher leadership at Southeast,” she added.