COLUMBIA — Columbia College and Hallsville R-IV School District signed an agreement Thursday morning to create a partnership between the two institutions.
Through the agreement, Hallsville teachers will be able to earn a voucher for a free master's level course from Columbia College for supervising education students as the students gain hands-on experience in the classroom. Columbia College students have been teaching in the Hallsville district prior to the agreement. However, this is the first time Hallsville teachers have been offered the chance to earn master's credit.
The agreement opens doors for students at Columbia College.
“It means that our students have the opportunity to do more reality-based learning,” said Marsha Knudsen, partnership and field experience liaison for the education department of Columbia College.
The number of courses in the Columbia College education department that include field experience will increase to 25 from seven, Knudsen said.
Columbia College already partners with both Southern Boone and Columbia Public Schools, Kristi Miller, assistant professor in education, said.
Education students have the opportunity to see a variety of types of classrooms, from rural classrooms in southern Boone County and Hallsville to larger classrooms in Columbia, Miller said.
“By the time our students graduate, they will be able to experience everything that mid-Missouri has to offer,” Miller said. “It gives them the opportunity to see everything that is out there.”
Columbia College's education degree includes five levels of field experience, beginning primarily with observation and concluding with students teaching and leading a classroom under supervision for at least three weeks, Knudsen said.
Students value the time they receive to work in classrooms with teachers, Amanda Dubbert, 22, said.
“In education, I think working in the classroom is the most important thing because you can read a textbook as many times as you want but you’re not going to really get the experiences until you’re in a classroom,” she said.
Dubbert has spent more than 500 hours in the classroom and spent eight weeks working at Hallsville Primary School and Intermediate School in special education classrooms.
“I loved the atmosphere at Hallsville,” she said. “The teachers were all really open and excited, and I got to know the principal really well. It was great seeing the stuff you never see in regular, larger classrooms.”
As education students learn, their supervising teachers are given the opportunity to advance their education by being given the opportunity earn master's credit at Columbia College.
“Every time a teacher hosts a student, they can earn a certificate that is redeemable for a free master's level course at Columbia College,” Knudsen said.
The certificate is a $900 value and is also transferable between teachers, she said.
Teachers can also benefit financially by pursuing and receiving a master's degree, said Misty LaRoe, a special education teacher at Hallsville Intermediate School.
“It will give them an opportunity to make more money, not a significant amount, but in today’s economy every little bit helps," she said.
Administrators in the district are excited for the opportunity for faculty to take master courses, said David Downs, Hallsville director of curriculum and instruction.
“This means that our teachers are going to have even more professional learning opportunities, which leads to an increase in learning for our students," Downs said.