Their View: Partnerships and outreach critical to facing educational challenges

Image of Dean Morehead

By Michael A. Morehead / For the Sun-News
Posted: 01/30/2011 01:00:05 AM MST

The beginning of the year always seems to be a time of reflection. Recently, I was reflecting on the New Mexico State University College of Education’s numerous programs and initiatives to support schools, teachers and students. As we head into a new year, it is imperative that we recognize how important outreach and partnerships across the state are to helping teachers, improving our school systems and ultimately the lives of children in New Mexico.

We face numerous educational challenges in our state, including high school retention and ensuring that children have the best educational opportunities, but with these challenges comes much promise. I am proud to say that the NMSU College of Education has a proven track record when it comes to creating and coordinating partnerships with public education in the state to provide the best educational opportunities for all. As the land-grant institution, we are well positioned to lead and committed to partnerships and outreach programs that have proven to be successful at retaining students at all educational levels, as well as improving test scores in critical areas such as mathematics.

At present, the College of Education works with about 70 percent of the school districts in the state through a variety of programs. In some districts, all the schools are involved with one or more of the programs sponsored by our college, therefore we work with several hundred schools in the state. Our partnerships provide services and activities for thousands of students during most calendar years, including many students in the Las Cruces Public Schools and the Gadsden Independent Schools.

Just last summer the college sponsored several professional development programs that served close to 1,000 teachers from across the state. These programs ranged from an Advanced Placement Program for teachers to math and science workshops that included administrators and teachers. The math and science initiatives included our academic partners from the College of Arts and Sciences and provided teachers, administrators and students educational professional development.

SEMMA, a science, engineering and math program, has won several national awards and demonstrated significant gains in student retention. This project, a partnership with the university’s College of Engineering, encourages students in middle school to participate in math, engineering and science programs. The MC squared grant, a collaboration with several school districts, has improved mathematics test scores in the participating schools. The gains in the students’ math and science scores have been significant because of these initiatives and partnerships.

The Alliance for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning partners with 18 school districts in our region and several governmental agencies including other universities. The alliance assists in coordinating outreach with our College of Education partners and identifies public school needs. As part of the alliance’s function it assists in finding the appropriate provider to meet the school’s needs. During the past several years, the alliance has solicited other colleges and departments from NMSU to assist in providing services and support for schools. The work of the alliance has contributed to the development of IDEAL New Mexico and the Early College High School in Las Cruces.

We are also a leader in academic outreach programs; presently we offer more than 15 programs that can be accessed through online and other distant delivery methods. These programs provide educational opportunities to educators who might not have access if the online and distant education format was not provided. We presently offer licensure programs, master and doctoral degrees through the online instructional format for more than 800 students. This type of academic commitment demonstrates how the NMSU College of Education is meeting the needs of educators in the state.

The College of Education will continue to create partnerships that enhance the educational opportunities and performance of children, and what is best for children and schools is the guiding principle that will direct faculty and staff as our college considers new opportunities and programs this year. By working together, New Mexico educators at all levels can find solutions for many of the challenges we face.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the College of Education faculty and staff for the exemplary outreach and professional development that they provide to our educational partners. Also we would like to thank the educators of New Mexico for their work and dedication to our children. Michael A. Morehead is the dean of the College of Education at New Mexico State University.


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