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Ann K. Hayes (573) 651-2552




POPLAR BLUFF, Mo., June 25, 2003 -- Details have been settled allowing start-up this fall of a new collaborative program enabling prospective teachers to earn a bachelor's degree in elementary education in Poplar Bluff through night classes.

Three Rivers Community College (TRCC) and Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau are collaborating on the program. Broad outlines of the degree program were revealed last month; since then, operational details have been worked out, with two informational meetings planned this summer for prospective degree candidates.

Informational meetings are scheduled for Tuesday, July 8, and for Monday, Aug. 4. Both meetings will start at 6 p.m.; both will be held in the Rutland Library building on TRCC's campus. No reservations are necessary. Fall classes begin Aug. 14.

"We are tremendously excited about this," said TRCC President Dr. John Cooper. "I believe this agreement is one of the most important of my career here. It will provide opportunity for many future teachers who otherwise would find it logistically difficult or impossible to pursue a teaching degree."

Dr. Kenneth Dobbins, President of Southeast, added, "We are proud to be a part of this innovative program that helps our university achieve two important goals improving access to our services for people in this region and training more excellent elementary school teachers who will stay in our region's school systems."

Linchpin of the TRCC/Southeast program is a schedule that will allow students to take their required courses either during the day or at night, making the degree accessible to full-time working people.

All courses, except required fieldwork, will be available on the TRCC campus. Junior- and senior-level students will be enrolled at Southeast Missouri State but will be taught by Southeast faculty members on TRCC's campus or through Web-based or Interactive TV courses. Students successfully completing the program will earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from Southeast Missouri State University.

Some teacher's aides will be able to apply their field experience to the student teaching and classroom observation requirements, according to Dr. Mary Lou Brown, TRCC Coordinator of Teacher Education. She and officials at Southeast will work out individual study plans for each degree candidate, making the most efficient use possible of each student's time and past coursework.

"Flexibility will be one of the key attractions of this program," said Dr. Lewis (Rick) Hux, Director of the Bootheel Education Center in Malden and one of the Southeast officials working with Brown on nuts-and-bolts details of the program.

According to Brown and Hux, successful degree candidates will first complete requirements for a TRCC Associate of Arts degree with a concentration in elementary education. For some students, that will mean 65 to 70 credit hours of study; students who already have a bachelor's degree in another discipline may only need a bundle of about 30 credit hours in basic TRCC teacher education courses.

Students will be able to take as few as three credit hours per semester or as many as 18, day or evening or on a mixed schedule, while enrolled at TRCC.

After completing TRCC's Associate of Arts degree, candidates will enroll as Southeast Missouri State students, paying that university's tuition rate, and the number of credit hours required per semester will become more structured.

"But every course you need will be available at least once a year in the evening, either at TRCC or on the Web or via ITV. And again, each study program will be individualized, with flexibility being the key," said Hux.

Hux said the minimum number of Southeast credit hours to complete the program will be 56, but most successful degree candidates will take 60 or more.

Brown urged anyone interested in the elementary education degree to call TRCC toll-free at 877-TRY-TRCC, Extension 618, or to visit the college Website at "Click on 'Teacher Education' in the list of topics at the top of the page, print out one of the forms expressing interest and send it to us," Brown said. "That way, we can put together a personalized study program for you even before the July or August meeting, and you'll be able to see just what you'll need to reach your goal."

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo., June 25, 2003 -- Three Rivers Community College (TRCC) President Dr. John Cooper, left, and Southeast Missouri State University President Dr. Kenneth Dobbins sign a new agreement offering a Southeast bachelor's degree in elementary education through evening and distance-learning courses at TRCC. Looking on is Gail Robertson, a Three Rivers graduate and newest member of Southeast Missouri State's Board of Regents.


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