Faculty members earn master's degrees without leaving local area

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

This year, over a dozen Cassville R-4 School District faculty members earned master's degrees through a partnership between the local district and Drury University in Springfield. Next year, several other faculty members from Cassville and surrounding school districts will earn master's degrees through a similar partnership with Southwest Baptist University in Springfield.

"These programs started as an effort to provide a higher education program for our teachers locally while meeting a need in the district, which was reading improvement," said Richard Asbill, Cassville superintendent.

Two years ago, Drury University expressed interest in providing a reading specialist master's degree program at the Cassville School District campus.

"We asked them to provide a cohert group here in Cassville," said Asbill. "Then, we held sign-ups for the program and around 17 teachers signed up to participate. Some of the teachers were interested in earning their first master's degree and some of them were interested in earning a second master's degree."

Cassville primary, intermediate and middle school teachers took part in the class over the last two years. Some instruction was offered on the school district campus and other instruction was conducted online.

"It was a great opportunity for them to achieve a master's degree without having to travel to and from a college campus," said Asbill. "It offered an opportunity with limited cost and travel time, which was very attractive to several of our teachers."

Last year, Southwest Baptist University contacted the school district with a proposal to offer a leadership education master's degree program. A few Cassville teachers signed up for the program, and additional faculty members signed up from surrounding communities.

"It is such a good shift for the universities to go where the students are," said Asbill. "It was nice of them to realize the time and effort it takes to complete one of these programs and try to meet the needs of their students."

Faculty members enrolled in Southwest Baptist University's two-year master's degree program will earn degrees at the end of the 2011-12 school year. At that time the Cassville School District will re-evaluate the partnerships.

"The reading specialist program, met a specific goal for the district, and the leadership program gave other teachers an opportunity to further their education," said Asbill. "We will probably need to wait a year and look at what the district's needs are. We will also need to wait until we have another group of teachers who are looking to earn their first or second master's who want to participate in the program."

Although teachers cannot sign up to complete the leadership master's degree program next year, faculty members can enroll in some of the classes Southwest Baptist University will offer locally next spring, fall and summer.

Those classes include: educational research; administrative communication, innovations and management; educational organizations, leadership and change; and learners and the learning process.

Southwest Baptist University tuition for the 2011-12 academic year is $200 per credit hour.

For more information, call Dr. Mick Arnold, Southwest Baptist University graduate studies in education and educational administration chair, at 1-800-792-4191 or e-mail Dr. Arnold at marnold@sbuniv.edu.

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