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Joplin School District partners with online university - KOAM TV 7

Joplin School District partners with online university

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 The Joplin School District partners with an online university, hoping to get more educators to advance their degrees.  An announcement of this partnership was made today at the Joplin School District Administration building.

Dawn Mertens, assistant principal of Irving Elementary in Joplin, thinks a new partnership between the Joplin School District and WGU University will soar like an eagle.

"It's very much different than a university that any of us attended to get our undergrad or just straight out of high school," says Mertens.

Mertens got her masters degree in education from WGU Utah.  She worked at her own pace, on her own schedule, all online.

"I had two active girls and knew that I wanted to spend as much time as I could with them," says Mertens.

Now there's a WGU Missouri.  There's about 965 enrolled students, most of them in their 30's and working full time.  Dr. Angie Besendorfer, who used to be the school district's assistant superintendent, is now chancellor of WGU Missouri.

"I think there are many people who have started a career, or didn't start a career, but wish they could be a teacher.  This is a way to draw those high quality folks in," says Besendorfer.

The new partnership between the school district and WGU allows educators to get a five percent discount when advancing their education through the online university.  The average yearly tuition costs about $6,000 a year.

"It's really a free benefit that Joplin schools is able to provide to their employees.  And there's no cost to the school district," says Besendorfer.

This is WGU Missouri's first partnership between them and any other outside school, and the only online university partnership for the Joplin School District.

"For those individuals that really have that passion and desire to work with kids, and have proven themselves up as maybe a teacher's aide or a secretary or something like that, it certainly bodes well for them and their chances of getting a job here," says Huff.

...a teacher job, or a principal, earned a bit differently than Mertens.

"It'll ease people's intuition of thinking oh my gosh, is this accredited or not?  Thinking that, am I getting this out of Utah?  Am I going to have to take a different test in order for me to be certified in Missouri?  Just that ease of somebody's mind will help," says Mertens.

Employees of the Joplin School District can receive the five percent discount on tuition for up to four six month terms.  

WGU'S teaching programs are accredited by the National Council on Teacher Education.  

Superintendent C.J. Huff also serves on a WGU Missouri board.

For more information on the online program, click here.

  

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