Southeast Elementary Education Program in Poplar Bluff Preparing Future Teachers


Southeast senior Mackenzie Moore completes her student-teaching field experience at Lake Road Elementary School in Poplar Bluff, Missouri.

For Southeast Missouri State University student Mackenzie Moore, the opportunity to earn her undergraduate degree in her hometown of Poplar Bluff, Missouri, was a chance she couldn’t pass up. 

“I was extremely excited because I knew that I wanted to stay in Poplar Bluff and start my teaching career here,” she said.  

Moore is among several students graduating this May with their Bachelor of Science in Education, elementary education, from Southeast’s Poplar Bluff Delivery Site. 

The program is committed to providing the level of excellence fostered by Southeast’s College of Education, Health and Human Studies — including using and integrating technology in the classroom, modeling 21st-century teaching techniques, hands-on student-teaching experiences, and close faculty-student relationships — to equip future teachers with the skills necessary for success throughout southeast Missouri. 

Moore graduated from Three Rivers College and Poplar Bluff High School in the same year. She said she wanted to attend college in the community where she grew up and plans to teach in southeast Missouri after completing her degree. That’s why having access to Southeast’s Bachelor of Science in Education in Poplar Bluff was so important to her. 

The University is dedicated to providing comprehensive academic and experiential learning opportunities to its student-teachers studying in Poplar Bluff, said Dr. Candee Baker, instructor of elementary, early, and special education. The location of the site makes college completion possible for non-traditional students. 

“Students are able to continue working close to home while earning their degrees. In addition, transportation and child care costs are drastically reduced or eliminated, which is often essential for non-traditional students,” said Baker. 

The high-quality program is a smart investment, and along with its  location and flexible class schedule, it is drawing many students to the Poplar Bluff Delivery Site. Among them is Summer Sitze, a senior from Doniphan, Missouri.  

Southeast senior Summer Sitze completes her student-teaching field experience at Neelyville Elementary School in Neelyville, Missouri.

“The Poplar Bluff campus was closer to my hometown and was more affordable for me than driving to the Cape Girardeau campus,” Sitze said. “The daytime classes helped me to be home with my children before and after my classes and their school.” 

Being able to earn a  degree close to home and from a nationally recognized institution was another important factor in deciding to attend Southeast for both Moore and Sitze. 

The University’s College of Education, Health and Human Studies is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), and the programs are recognized by the Association of Childhood Education International (ACEI), National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). Southeast is also an Apple Distinguished School, positioning it among the most continuously innovative schools in the world for learning, teaching and school environment. 

The program also provides the tools to learn to use and integrate instructional technology with its EDvolution® one-to-one initiative. Each student learns how to use technological devices in the classroom setting, better preparing them as future teachers for the teaching methods of tomorrow. 

“The students use an iPad in their classes and in the public schools as part of their field work,” said Baker. 

Students can access technology resources  in the EDvolution Center, located in Scully Building on the main Southeast campus. Students can submit electronic requests for 3D printing, robotics and many more projects which are then delivered to the Poplar Bluff Delivery Site.

The students complete their student-teaching field experience in local school districts, applying the skills and knowledge they’ve gained and providing them with invaluable hands-on experiences in schools where they one day may be employed, Baker said.

“Our student-teachers build strong, positive relationships with the children in the local school districts and work closely with and tutor area students,” she said.

Year-long field experiences allow future teachers to gain confidence in the classroom before graduating and help them build relationships with local teachers and administrators.

“Having the program in Poplar Bluff made it so much easier to grow connected with teachers in the district and establish relationships,” Moore said.

Moore lead a class as part of her student-teaching field experience at Lake Road Elementary.

Baker added, “Our teacher candidates will go on to build strong, positive relationships with students in the local school districts, and they serve as role models to encourage these students to also pursue a college education,” she said. 

The Poplar Bluff Delivery Site’s graduates-to-be are looking forward to what their future careers hold. Sitze is looking to teach near her hometown. 

“I would like to reach the most students possible. I would also like to coach track and field one day if the opportunity arises,” said Sitze. “The field experience hours have helped me to be a more hands-on teacher and have given me a higher level of knowledge and experience to better teach students. The whole program is challenging, but it helps you become a better teacher.”

The tightly-knit community at the Poplar Bluff Delivery Site has been the perfect fit for students like Sitze and Moore, preparing them for their future careers in a personal and supportive learning environment. 

“The program is much more than a group of students taking classes – we are truly a family here. I have not only had the opportunity to grow in knowledge and learn what it takes to be a teacher but also have developed friendships that will last a lifetime,” Moore said.