Commentary is a regular UMSL Daily column written by members of the UMSL community.


The College of Education at the University of Missouri–St. Louis prepares for every educator role. We prepare educators for businesses, government agencies, national educational organizations, foundations, museums, zoos and nonprofit youth-serving organizations, as well as for charter, private and public schools.

The community we serve is large and growing. To serve these constituents well, the college is focusing on how we can “get closer to the community and how the community can get closer to us.”

Getting closer to the community means our students get a breadth of experiences in a variety of settings always focused on understanding how students – pre-K to adult learners – engage in learning, what kinds of instructional practice works and how to keep students mentally healthy and active. It doesn’t matter whether those students are young children or even senior citizens; they all need the right kind of support and advocacy to take advantage of life’s possibilities.

In particular, we are making major changes to our educator preparation programs so the community experience is essential to each and every course. In the current redesign students will gain greater hands-on experience. That will include 300 hours of work in youth-serving organizations and more than 900 hours experience in Pre-12 schools.

We are also partnering with United Way and their constituent agencies to provide community experiences whereby our education students will develop an understanding of how to build relationships with youths and families and support the needs of youths socially, emotionally and cognitively.

Our partnerships with schools are also changing as we develop a model we are calling “Studio Schools.” This model will include the placement of small cohorts of our education students as additional staff in St. Louis-area schools. During our students’ yearlong experience, they’ll impact student learning as they become part of the fabric of the school.

Reaching out and engaging partners on their home turf is only one half of the equation. The other half is getting more of the community closer to us so they can help us as “thought partners” in the work we do. We are bringing the community to us as advisory members for the college. We believe this ensures our programs are meaningful and relevant to students and support the needs of the community we serve.

As the college moves forward, we are excited about the opportunities we have to collaborate and integrate community resources into our work. We look to join and use existing systems in the community to make our programs better than ever. We are open to new ideas and innovative thinking in the field of education and want to join both national and local efforts for change. We believe that working together as a community is the only way we can get to a better and more equitable education for all.

Carole Basile is the dean of the College of Education at UMSL.

Ryan Heinz

Ryan Heinz