MU Faculty Help Joplin Schools

6 years 6 months 2 days ago Thursday, June 16 2011 Jun 16, 2011 Thursday, June 16, 2011 2:07:00 PM CDT June 16, 2011 in News
By: Brian Johnson

COLUMBIA - Thursday faculty at the University of Missouri's College of Education loaded boxes of books into a truck behind Townsend Hall. The books are part of a larger effort to help the Joplin School District prepare for its upcoming school year which starts in 61 days.

The district lost two elementary schools, a middle school, the high school, and the Franklin Technology Center, among other district buildings. Of the more than 7,700 students in the district, assistant superintendent Angie Besendorfer said 4,200 students attended the schools that were impacted. She estimated about 3,000 students' homes were also effected by the tornado. She said the tornado destroyed perhaps 100,000 books or more of the district's resources.

But despite the tragedy, the Joplin School District is gearing up for the upcoming school year and they are grateful for the help they have received from faculty at the University of Missouri.

"I was so impressed," said Besendorfer. "They drove down to say 'What do you need?'."

Monica Beglau is the Executive Director of eMints and a faculty member of the College of Education at MU. She is part of a team who is helping Joplin plan for the coming school year.

"Our staff and the eMints National Center has adopted a school and we are trying to provide some of the educational materials that they are going to need," said Beglau. "We have provided full access to all of the eMints professional development materials for the teachers at any of the schools."

eMints is part of the University of Missouri. It is a program that provides teacher training and helps teachers use technologies to improve learning.

Beglau said they was set up by the Joplin school foundation. Businesses, philanthropic groups can adopt a school, one that was either damaged or destroyed and provide assistance to them in rebuilding or replacing what they lost.

"We are working with them to help them prepare for more of an electronic approach to some of their classrooms since their classroom space it going to be at a premium," said Paul Pitchford, a faculty member in the College of Education. "We are trying to help them think about virtual libraries, virtual classrooms, and all kinds of technology to help them be effective in the classroom without having a typical high school classroom at their disposal."

Pitchford said that as horrible as that disaster was for Joplin, it has provided an opportunity to start over and improve education even beyond what it was prior to the destruction.

"The students and teachers in Joplin are incredibly resilient," said Beglau. When we met with some of them last week, you could tell that there was a certain amount of trauma and stress that they had been under, but their hope for the future and their ability to see beyond the immediate and look forward for the betterment of their community was really amazing."

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