Landmark distance education program celebrates 25th anniversary
Just over 25 years ago, the Des Moines Area Community College reached out to the University of Northern Iowa with a problem: Rural areas of Western Iowa were having trouble attracting quality teaching candidates.
The solution to this issue is still flourishing today - the 2+2 Elementary Education Program, now the longest-running partnership between a university and community college in the state. The program is celebrating its 25th anniversary with the largest student class in its history.
“Community leaders recognized the long-term value of creating a pathway for placebound and non-traditional students in the region to complete a teaching degree -- and UNI was their first choice,” said Kent Johnson, dean of UNI’s Division of Continuing Education and Special Programs.
The 2+2 program offers students who cannot relocate to Cedar Falls the ability to take two years of classes at DMACC followed by two years of upper-level classes delivered by UNI through a combination of in-person, online and hybrid approaches.
The program, which has been available at DMACC’s Carroll, Ankeny and Boone campuses, will have graduated 307 students by May 2021. Many of these graduates have gone on to teach in rural districts that face an aging teacher population and social and financial challenges to attracting qualified teachers.
“We’re providing rural districts that can have trouble attracting qualified candidates with teachers who are trained by the best teaching school in the state,” said Marc Renning, the program coordinator and an instructor with the College of Education.
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