Poplar Bluff Schools in partnership with Lindenwood University is encouraging more local educators to earn the highest graduate degree attainable by bringing the first doctoral program to the community.
In addition to Poplar Bluff R-I educators, the initial group of students admitted includes teachers and administrators from Three Rivers College, Leopold and Cooter. While the two-year program is designed to serve a one-time need, the hope is for the collaboration to have long-term implications, according to officials.
“Any time people study their craft, they get better,” says Poplar Bluff Middle School Principal Dr. Brad Owings, “and we want more for our district and for our kids so Poplar Bluff will become an even better place to live.”
Based in the Metro East, Lindenwood has begun its second program in West Plains, where Owings previously served, and the program has been the catalyst for numerous doctorates in that region in recent years. When Owings approached R-I Assistant Superintendent of Personnel Dr. Amy Jackson earlier this year with the notion of gauging interest here, she was immediately receptive.
“This was something I felt would be a wonderful opportunity for our staff as well as other schools throughout the entire area,” Jackson said. “The goal is to be able to continue this opportunity for years so teachers and our administration can grow and learn.”
Enrolled in the program from the R-I district are O’Neal IEP facilitator Susan Schalk, Middle School teacher Shelly Ridens and interventionist Brandy Tripp, along with High School math teacher Brandi Compass and assistant principal Sheldon Tyler. The tracks include educational administration and instructional leadership, along with a higher education option.
The first set of courses, administrative decision making and 21st century issues in education, will be taught by Jackson and Owings respectively beginning in January at the R-I Administrative Building on North Westwood Boulevard.
“The beauty of the program is the people teaching are practitioners themselves,” noted Dr. Terry Reid, Lindenwood director of graduate education. “There’s no program convenient at all to Poplar Bluff. It’s a great location because it’s a regional hub for much of Southeast Missouri.”