Psychology Department, CDC on the move

Missouri Southern’s Psychology Department and Child Development Center will be on the move this spring.

The Child Development Center, currently located in Taylor Hall, will be relocated into a spacious, 11,000 square feet of property at 3600 Newman Road currently used by the Joplin Regional Center.

Bob Harrington, director of the Physical Plant, says the CDC ultimately will occupy all but the Newman Road side of that building.

“Our lease started in September,” Harrington says. “If everything goes according to schedule, we will move the CDC into the new facility over spring break in March 2017.”

Harrington says the space Psychology occupies in the Health Sciences building is needed for construction of the new dental school facility for the University of Missouri –Kansas City. That project will start next summer.

Psychology will move into the annex building behind the Physical Plant once the Biology Department moves into its new location in the newly-renovated Reynolds Hall in May 2017. Then will come remodeling and new construction of the old CDC location in the Taylor Education building.

If all goes as planned, the Psychology Department will move to its permanent home in Taylor Hall in May 2018.

“What’s planned will be spectacular,” says Dr. Robert McDermid, Psychology Department chair. “In the end, we will have an outstanding learning and work environment.”

archive Fall 2016

New mural captures Joplin’s history

Kyle McKenzie serves as lead muralist for East Town project

The bright, vivid colors of the mural stretch from one end to the other of the former Earl Smith market on Langston Hughes/Broadway in Joplin’s East Town.

Named “Belonging to All the Hands Who Build,” the mural depicts important figures from the community’s history, while paying tribute to the storytelling that keeps their contributions alive.

“One of the main themes during the creation of this mural was the idea of storytelling,” says Kyle McKenzie, an art instructor at Missouri Southern who served as lead artist for the project. “I was struck not just by the history that was shared with us, but by the way they told the stories. The hummingbird on the mural is sort of a symbolic reference to the coming and going of information as it is passed along with grace and efficiency.”

Among those depicted in the mural is Betty Smith, a longtime resident who is passionate about East Town’s history; and Melissa Cuther, a schoolteacher who helped bring big-name musicians such as the Duke Ellington Orchestra to Joplin and house them at a time when they were unable to get a hotel room due to the color of their skin.

Joplin’s Cultural Affairs Committee received a grant from the Missouri Arts Council to create the mural. McKenzie was tabbed for the role after serving as an apprentice to Lawrence, Kan.-based muralist Dave Loewenstein for “The Butterfly Effect” mural at 15th and Main streets.

A series of community meetings were held to discuss the project and come up with a design, and painting began in August. A dedication ceremony was held on Oct. 2, with the MSSU Jazz Band, under the direction of Freddie Green, performing during the event. McKenzie said the entire process was a valuable learning experience. “I learned a lot about Joplin’s black history, and particularly about people in this community who really broke ground,” he said.

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Michael Howarth publishes first novel

Sometimes, all a young kid wants to do is hone his sweet ninja skills and take his rightful place as the “Bruce Lee of New England.”

Things, however, are not always that easy. Throw in the pressures of high school, a shopaholic mother, a rap-loving therapist and an Asian cyber-girlfriend, and young Timothy Dimmick’s quest takes some un – expected turns.

Timothy’s path is at the heart of “Fair Weather Ninjas,” the first novel by Dr. Michael Howarth, associate professor of English and director of the Honors Pro – gram at Missouri Southern State University. “It has a humorous element, and there’s a lot in there for adults, too,” he said.

The novel was published this summer by Lamar University Literary Press. Andrew Geyer, author of “Dixie Fish” and “Meeting the Dead” said of the book: “If being a ninja means having the ability to overcome tragedy and to temper with grace the day-after-day awfulness that too often comes with being a teen, then Michael Howarth’s gorgeous coming-of-age novel is a must-read.”

The paperback is available through online retailers such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Dr. Patricia Murphy, a retired English professor, recently published “The New Woman Gothic: Reconfigurations of Distress.”

Published by the University of Missouri Press, the book adds to the study of the New Woman in British fiction in the 19th and 20th centuries. The “New Woman” was the term used at the end of the 19th century to describe women who resisted the limits which society imposed on women. (Today she might be called a liberated woman or a feminist.)

The book, designed for an academic audience, examines the New Woman as she appears in Gothic writing.

Buy Fair Weather Ninjas here!

archive Fall 2016

Geography lab unveiled along with new major

The addition of a geography lab is helping to put the new major on the map at Missouri Southern.

The creation of the lab is a result of a minor degree growing into a larger program, said Steve Smith, professor of geography. After being approved by the state last year, the 2016-17 school year is the first for geography to be offered as a major.

“Geography and spatial science are among the top 25 job fields in the United States right now,” said Smith. “What we wanted was essentially an interactive class – room environment … a space that accommodates a bank of computers and space for lab classes and traditional lectures.

To construct the lab, crews combined two rooms on the second floor of Webster Hall, removing a wall and installing a dual-projection system, topographic maps, globes and new carpeting. “The idea was to create a space that’s visually interest – ing, and more than just a traditional classroom,” said Smith.

archive Fall 2016

Social work program doubles its enrollment

When the social work program launched at Missouri Southern at the start of the 2015-16 school year, it was with fewer than 20 students. In its second full year, the program has more than doubled in size.

“We have 33 students who came in this August,” said Dr. Renee White, department chair. “There’s been a lot of word of mouth around campus about it, as well as by people in the community who have social work degrees and are excited to share the news.”

Another factor helping to bolster the new degree is the job potential. According to the National Association of Social Workers, employment it expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations. That is, in part, due to the growing elderly population and the aging Baby Boom generation.

White said she hopes to see the program continue to flourish at Missouri Southern. “Social work is an up-and-coming profession,” said White. “Regionally, there are some rural areas that are very much in need of social workers.”

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Smith named regional vice president for PBL

Emmalee Smith, a junior marketing and management major from Carthage, has been elected to serve as the national vice president for the North Central Region of Phi Beta Lambda.

The PBL club is the collegiate equivalent of Future Business Leaders of America – an educational association of postsecondary student members preparing for careers in business. The election took place during the PBL National Leadership Conference held during the summer in Atlanta, Ga.

“I knew last year’s vice president. She enjoyed the experience and recommended me for it,” said Smith. “I applied, developed a two day campaign, gave a speech to members of our region and then won the election.

“This is the 75th year for FBLA-PBL, so my slogan was ‘Emmalee Smith in the 75th.’ The color theme went along with the organization’s colors – blue and gold. My speech and campaign revolved around their three pillars – service, education and progress. I’m very passionate about the organization.”

As vice president for the North Central Region, she will serve as the primary student liaison between the national organization and chapters in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

“I’ll help the eight states work with the national organization,” said Smith. “I’ll reach out to state officers and see if they need assistance with their meetings or state conferences.”

During the national conference, Smith also received a national championship in the Business Communications category.

PBL, in association with FBLA, is the oldest and largest business organization for students. There are more than 10,000 active members in the United States, including 20 chapters with 350 members in Missouri. Stu Dunlop, marketing/management professor, serves as adviser for the Missouri Southern chapter.

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Student receives Delta Mu Delta scholarship

Madison McDonnell, a senior management/human resource major from Granby, was recently awarded a $1,000 scholarship from Delta Mu Delta, the international honor society in business.

“I applied for the board of governors scholarship, which required me to include information about my volunteerism, the things I’ve been active in on campus as well as references,” she said. “I was very flattered to receive it. Financially it was helpful with school costs.”

McDonnell, who was inducted into the campus chapter of Delta Mu Delta in the spring, will graduate in Spring 2017. Delta Mu Delta promotes higher scholarship in training for business and to recognize and reward scholastic achievement in business subjects. To be inducted in the Lambda Gamma chapter at Missouri Southern, students must be business majors and in the top 20 percent of their class. Dr. Jonathan Adongo, assistant professor of economics, is the adviser for the chapter.

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March for Babies held at MSSU

The Joplin March for Babies was held on Oct. 22 at Fred G. Hughes Stadium.

The event – which was held for the first time on the Missouri Southern campus – was presented by the university’s chapter of Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda. Since 1970, the annual event has raised more than $2.5 billion, with all funds used to support the March of Dimes’ mission to improve the health of babies.

“The March of Dimes is the national charity for FBLAPBL,” said Stu Dunlop, marketing/management professor and adviser for the Missouri Southern chapter. “Our students found out the walk wasn’t being held in Joplin on a formal basis and decided to reintroduce it.”

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Grads see success with Carthage’s Dual Language Academy

Southern alums Megan Wilkes, ’13, and Gretel Schmidt, ’14, received their education expecting to teach young students.

What they didn’t expect was their involvement in an innovative dual-language immersion program of the type currently underway at Fairview Elementary School in Carthage.

Jana Sawyer, ’93, English Language Learners coordinator for the Carthage School District, says the Carthage Dual Language Academy began in the 2015-16 school year. At the time, the effort was implemented in kindergarten and first grade, with two classrooms per grade level. This year, as the first graders moved into second grade, grade two was added to the effort and new enrollees joined the kindergarten classes.

“We will continue to add a grade level in the program each year as that first cohort of students moves up, continuing through high school,” Sawyer says.

Wilkes, the English language first-grade teacher at Fairview, says the effort involves more than just teaching students to speak another language: “There is a genuine community aspect to it,” she says. “We are blending two communities. We are learning about differences and acceptance. Life lessons consist of a lot more than academics alone.”

Sawyer says each grade level has two classrooms with approximately 20 students each. Half of the students speak primarily English at home. The other half speak primarily Spanish. One of the classrooms is an English only classroom and the other a Spanish-only classroom. Students spend half of their day in each class.

Schmidt, who teaches the Spanish language class for first grade, grew up speaking Spanish. She says that just as young children from Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua or other Spanish-speaking countries learn English quickly, native English speakers have proved surprisingly adept with Spanish.

“My non-native speakers have really good accents,” she says. “They already can roll their r’s and use the right inflections and voices.”

The teachers agree that the full language immersion for half of each school day is key to the students’ success.

The program makes up only a portion of the curriculum at Fairview. Parents are informed about the purposes and goals of the Dual Language Academy and are then invited to enroll their children. If they are not interested, their children will attend classes in which only English is spoken.

“Space is pretty limited,” Sawyer says. “Right now, we have more families interested than we can accept.”

While the Carthage School District has approximately 1,100 students who are classified as English Language Learners, the dual immersion program does not directly relate to that need, says Sawyer. The goal is to give everyone the opportunity to add a language, rather than lose one.

She says that although it is too early to draw conclusions about long term academic success, teachers have seen students form a unified community with their peers because of the need to rely on each other for support in speaking a new language.

“They are constantly being challenged,” she says. “Meeting those challenges successfully develops pride, and enhances academic risk-taking, creative thinking and problem-solving skills.”

Other Southern alums involved in Carthage’s dual language program include teachers Emeli Jimenez and Rachel Gonzalez, ’16; Fairview principal Ronna Patterson, ’81; assistant principal Lori Harter, ’89; and Carthage assistant superintendent of schools, Kandy Frazier, ’92.

archive Fall 2016

School to offer ELL graduate degree

A new Master of Science in Education English Language Learner program, designed for educators who would like to pursue certification in ELL, will help to meet the needs of students whose first language is not English.

The program will offer teachers courses in linguistics, second-language acquisition, diverse cultures, pedagogical implementation, assessment and professionalism in the ELL field. Courses will be offered online starting in the summer of 2017.

“We are developing this program because of the increasing ELL population in K-12 schools in Southwest Missouri,” says Dr. Deborah Brown, dean of the School of Education. “We want to help teachers meet the needs of their students.”

archive Fall 2016