New Practicum Gives Education Majors an Early Start in the Classroom

A new practicum at Missouri Southern is moving future elementary school teachers into the classroom earlier.

Education 415 takes place the semester before student teaching. Students spend all day in an elementary school classroom on Wednesdays. They attend classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays but get a substitute certificate and are free to substitute on Mondays and Fridays.

Sheila Damer, director of Clinical Field Experiences, says students are taking part in elementary school classes in Joplin, Webb City and Carthage. One student has also been placed into an elementary school in Grove, Okla.

“This practicum will better prepare our future teachers by giving them an earlier authentic experience in a school setting,” says Dr. Deborah Brown, dean of the School of Education. “It combines several smaller practicums into a more integrated experience.”

“It is important to get candidates out in the field early to begin the connections between theory and practice,” says Lorinda Hackett,
Teacher Education department chair.

Damer says Education 415 candidates can be placed in grades 1 through 6 (although most schools only offer classes through the fifth grade). During the spring semester, a total of 18 teacher candidates are taking part in Education 415. Currently, the practicum is only
being offered to Elementary Education majors.

“We plan on reviewing the results and we hope to expand the concept to middle schools in the future,” Damer says.

School of Education Spring 2017

Voices of Southern

One of the things I love about working in higher education is that no day is the same … except in one regard.

Education is a field where you leave every day and truly feel like you’ve made a difference.

But working in higher-ed isn’t something I grew up considering as a career. I had some fabulous mentors along the way who helped guide me where I am today. And now that I’m here – wrapping up my second year at Missouri Southern – I can’t see myself doing anything else.

I’ve been very blessed and feel so lucky to be a college professor, especially now. There are a lot of changes happening at MSSU, both in my department and at the university as a whole. It’s exciting to be a part of it.

My biggest focus, second from teaching, is coordinating our graduate programs. We’re seeing a huge boost in applications, which is translating into enrolled students.

Enrollment has grown to the point where we’re going to add another cohort to our Master’s in Educational Administration program. The Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction is also booming, in part because of how flexible the online offerings make it, but also because students are only required to take 18 hours of core classes. The other 18 hours of graduate study are completely up to them, allowing them to create something of an emphasis area. I think that’s very appealing.

Something else I am excited about is my first research project here at Missouri Southern. Along with a few others in the department, I’m working on a study to analyze our students’ experience with substitute teaching.

We’re surveying students who have completed 60 hours or more to find out how many of our students have had experience as a substitute teacher, what led them to make that decision – or why not, for those who haven’t – and what they gained from it.

If our students can sub before they get jobs, it just adds to the clinical experience that they have in the classroom, helps them with classroom management and more.

And if the survey shows that the experience is benefiting them, our challenge will then be to make it so they have the opportunity to get that experience as part of their education.

I believe that this kind of work serves an important purpose. It makes our students feel like they’re involved in decisions we’re making as a department and that will ultimately affect them – not just at the basic class level or program level, but in their teaching career. It gives them that much more buy-in.

Students know when their teachers are thinking “big picture.” They see when an assignment is relevant to their own lives. They get it. And building that kind of a relationship with your students is what it’s all about.

School of Education Spring 2017

Kinesiology Co-Sponsors Archery Shootout

Area school districts participated in the Academy Outdoors Shootout on March 4 at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center – an event coordinated by a School of Education graduate.

This year’s archery tournament was sponsored by the MSSU Department of Kinesiology, Academy Outdoors and American Whitetail. School systems at Carl Junction, Carthage, Joplin and Sarcoxie (The SW Missouri Archery Alliance) were co-hosts.

Elementary, middle- and high-school divisions were included, as well as individual competitions. Chelsi Leggett, a Carl Junction High School physical education teacher and archery coach, received her bachelor’s in secondary education from Missouri Southern. She says Carl Junction is in its fifth year of competition in archery.

Leggett says local archery efforts are an outgrowth of the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP).

“It’s not like any other sport. It’s limitless,” she says. “Any student can find success in the program. That doesn’t necessarily mean a medal but it means they can see huge improvements of their starting point and ending point in one season based on their score.”

Leggett was an athlete while attending school in Carl Junction where she participated in volleyball, basketball and track. She also hunted and fished with her father.

“It wasn’t until I applied for the job at Carl Junction that I got serious about starting outdoor sports at Carl Junction,” she states. “When given the go-ahead to get certified as an Archery instructor and bring NASP to our school, I jumped on it and there’s been no turning back.”

The Carl Junction team recently began practicing at a closed grocery store in Carl Junction. Every September the team holds an annual fundraiser with a chili feed, aerial archery, a dunk tank, Archery Tag and other events to cover utilities at the building and meet other expenses.

School of Education Spring 2017

Southern Alum Accepts Joplin High Principal Position

Dr. Brandon Eggleston, a 1999 Teacher Education graduate at Missouri Southern, took over in July as principal at Joplin High School.

Eggleston attended Joplin’s North Middle School as a child and graduated from Missouri Southern State University. Later he returned to North as principal for four years before accepting the job at JHS. Some may remember Eggleston from his days as a first baseman for the MSSU baseball team. He played with the team from 1993-1998.

“Every time my old teammates and I see each other, we are able to go back to that part of our life and enjoy some laughs and memories together,” he said.

Eggleston says his father and mother were his primary role models.

“I still am blessed to have them in my life,” he says. “Also, Coach Warren Turner had an impact on me, and I still lean on the lessons I learned from him.”

Although serving in a leadership role can be demanding, he says it goes part and parcel with his original motivations to establish a career in education.

“It is a big job and I am busy, but I do have a balance,” Eggleston says. “My three kids and my wife are my priority.”

School of Education Spring 2017