Columbia College recently received a $70,000 grant from the Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education that the college will utilize to launch its ConnectUP! Program, which aims to build and strengthen the statewide teacher workforce.

The grant was awarded through the State of Missouri’s “Developing an Educator Workforce that Expands Yearly” Awards, also known as the DEWEY Awards.

The college was one of 15 higher education institutions to receive equivalent awards.

“Investing in the teachers of today and tomorrow is as critical as ever,” says Dr. Sandra Hamar, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “Columbia College is committed to partnering with current and future educators every step of the way. This program is a three-stage approach toward helping teachers while emphasizing increased opportunities in rural areas.”

“Investing in the teachers of today and tomorrow is as critical as ever.”

Dr. Sandra Hamar, Columbia College Provost and VP for Academic Affairs

The program will recruit new students interested in becoming a teacher by giving them access to technology resources such as laptops and internet connection to take online or virtual courses; provide scholarships to existing students during their student teaching semester where they are paired with an experienced teacher and mentored in the profession; and offer monetary support to help graduates purchase teaching and learning supplies in their first or second year of teaching.

 “We are proud to implement our ConnectUP! Program to help address the Missouri teacher shortage by providing meaningful support when it matters most,” says Dixie Williams, vice president for Enrollment Management & Marketing.

Gift cards for supplies will be dispersed to new teachers identified by the college. Priority for scholarships and technology resources will be given to students who plan to teach in, or who already live in, a geographical area in which the teacher shortage is most pronounced and/or those whose representation among Missouri teachers is disproportionate relative to the school-age population.