Thank you to Rhonda Bishop at Missouri State University for sending us this writeup about the amazing Bears Teach program! We are so excited to partner with higher education institutions that invest in the next generation of teacher-leaders in rural places.
June 12th through the 16th was an exciting week for the Missouri State University College of Education. The Childhood Education and Family Studies Department (CEFS) hosted their fourth annual weeklong event called Bears Teach. This summer activity is designed for high school students who are interested in the teaching profession. While the camp is open to all high school students, many of the participants attend rural schools.
This year 43 students attended the camp, a number that doubled from last year. Most participants came from Missouri, but two students attended from Iowa and Mississippi. The group stayed in a residence hall and ate most of their meals in the campus dining hall. The participants were supervised by three college mentors, a graduate assistant, a faculty member, and the associate dean of the College of Education.
The students learned about campus life including student resources and organizations, and financial aid sessions. They also learned how to prepare for college by participating in ACT preparation, essay writing, and a resume building workshop. Students met with faculty members to learn about programs available for students at Missouri State University interested in teaching early childhood education, elementary education, middle school, and high school.
One of the highlights of the week was visiting Nixa Public Schools in Nixa, Missouri. Students interested in teaching young students were allowed to explore the John Thomas School of Discovery (JTSD) a STEAM-focused elementary school in the district. Students interested in secondary education visited Nixa Junior High and were permitted to attend project-based learning courses offered during the summer session. The Nixa faculty and administration were very involved in explaining the learning in the classrooms and answering questions for the Bears Teach students.
In addition to the weeklong learning event, fun activities were incorporated as well. The students visited the library and were able to make their own t-shirts and explore the resources the library offers education students. The group went to Incredible Pizza and attended a Springfield Cardinals game, a minor league baseball team located nearby. The week ended with a campus scavenger hunt by teams of the students. Each night there were mentor led events including teacher Olympics, movies, and karaoke.
Survey results from the students indicate most students felt the program was valuable and helped them solidify their decision to become a teacher. Over 30% of the participants indicated they want to teach in rural areas. When asked if they wanted to return home to teach, 30% of the group reported they wanted to return home and another 49% responded maybe.