Throughout our history as a regional, comprehensive university, the College of Education has served Missouri well and continues to lead educator preparation across the state. The college started in 1871 as a Normal School preparing elementary school teachers to work in rural counties, and in 1919 transitioned from these early beginnings to become Central Missouri State Teachers College. We have made important strides, alongside the communities we serve, bringing positive change to rural towns, urban centers like Kansas City, and across the burgeoning suburban communities that grew in between.

Long before we started offering graduate education programs out of the newly established Missouri Innovation Campus in Lee’s Summit, College of Education faculty were pushing beyond Warrensburg to provide our students with practical, real-world experiences that broadened their thinking and learning outside of the traditional classroom. They understood then what research confirms today: that context-specific, on-site preparation matters.

COE Steps to Teaching flyer

Led by Drs. Fred Rietbrock, Robert Marshall, James Hudson and Ted Garten, the “Inner City Teacher Education Program” (1964–1970) was created after Jim Wade, ’59, a Kansas City Public School administrator, asked professor Rietbrock, “Why don’t we do more to prepare teachers to work with students from different cultures, especially in the inner city?”

I recently had an opportunity to catch up with Dr. Hudson at a Mules Football game, and earlier this year with Dr. Garten in Colorado. Both emeriti faculty spoke of the program’s impact on them as educators, on students as they prepared to become urban teachers and on the children in the schools whose teachers, in turn, celebrated their cultural diversity. They also reflected proudly on the program’s national acclaim through the Distinguished Achievement Award for Excellence in Teacher Education, awarded in 1966 by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. Today, our programs continue to be externally recognized for their exemplary access, quality and affordability by U.S. News & World Report, Best College Review and Top Masters.

Not only is our legacy as a premier educator preparation institution wellrecognized, but we are also the longest continuously NCATE/CAEP-accredited public institution in Missouri, with alumni teaching and leading across the state.

In fact, more than 78 percent of our graduates work in Missouri schools, representing the university in more than 75 percent of the state’s 567 school districts.

Since my tenure began in 2017, I have worked with faculty, staff and district partners to continue our legacy by developing new initiatives to meet workforce demands in rural, urban and suburban communities. With generous support from the Allen P. and Josephine B. Green Foundation, we have developed “grow your own” teaching pathways for high school students in Clinton, Holden R-III, Johnson County R-VII, Lafayette County C-1 and Leeton R-X districts. This program introduces the teaching profession to high school students, providing them with opportunities to engage children in their communities and earn college credits while still in high school.

We initiated a new paraprofessional teacher pathway for adult learners in Independence, Raytown, Lee’s Summit and Blue Springs school districts, with nearly 100 potential students expressing interest in pursuing degrees through this program. While working in our partner districts, they’ll earn the certification needed to teach. Such homegrown programs are essential to reducing teacher attrition and combating teacher shortages across the state.

We also recognized that service men, women and other military-connected individuals are eager to join our campus community but encounter hurdles with scheduling. Therefore, partnering with UCM’s Military Veterans Success Center and Extended Studies, we led the way to conceptualize UCM Flex — flexible-format courses redesigned in eight-week blocks and offered in the evening to accommodate a working adult’s schedule. Courses in our early childhood, elementary, middle school and career and technical education programs are available for enrollment.

Finally, building on the legacy of the “Inner City Teacher Education Program,” we are developing a pipeline of urban teachers trained in context through the faculty-led redesign of existing courses. Redesigned undergraduate courses will include an associated clinical experience and service-learning component, offering our teacher candidates invaluable immersive, content- and context-based exposure to Kansas City schools and communities. At the graduate level, we created the MSE English Language Learners degree to address our district partners’ need for qualified teachers trained to meet the needs of a growing population of culturally and linguistically diverse students.

Track Team

As I travel the state meeting our alumni, I am constantly reminded how powerful A Century of Teaching and Learning UCM’s College of Education Celebrates 100 years the Central Missouri connection is for each of us. Whenever I wear Mules gear, people approach me to ask about my affiliation or to share that they or someone in their family is an alumnus. I often hear, “UCM will always be CMSU to me,” referencing the change to our name. After one such conversation, I reflected on our impressive history and how, despite name changes that may hold different meanings to alumni, the identity of “Central” has not changed. Our university was established on the foundation of teacher education, and this has remained a constant focus for us throughout our history. Your legacy, as members of our college community, is central to who we are today and strive to be tomorrow.

In this spirit, I am pleased to announce that we are commemorating the College of Education’s Centennial Anniversary starting July 2019. We lift up and honor this history through the “My Central, My Legacy” campaign, celebrating 100 years of education in Missouri. Whether your affinity is toward Central Missouri State Teachers College (1919), Central Missouri State College (1945), Central Missouri State University (1972) or the University of Central Missouri (2006), we invite you to celebrate your legacy and learn how we plan to build upon the foundation our alumni laid.

Next January, the College of Education will implement VISION 2020, a comprehensive strategic plan currently in development alongside college faculty, staff, students, alumni and university stakeholders. VISION 2020 will provide a framework to guide us over the next five years. While some say that hindsight is 20/20, this plan, conceived and envisioned by many voices, will show us the way forward.

Whether you are a graduate of the College of Education, of another academic college at UCM or a friend of the university, I hope you will join us.

The “My Central, My Legacy” 100th anniversary kicks off with a golf tournament July 26. Other events include a ribbon cutting Aug. 15 for a Legacy Suite in the Lovinger Education Building and a COE centennial celebration weekend Oct. 25–26. Visit to learn more!



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