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Northwest Missouri State University


Faculty/Staff Spotlight

Feb. 12, 2015

Samudzi participates in summit for selective high school leaders

Dr. Cleo Samudzi

Dr. Cleo Samudzi

Dr. Cleo Samudzi, dean of the Missouri Academy of Science, Mathematics and Computing at Northwest Missouri State University, joined school leaders and experts from across the country Feb. 5-6 at a two-day summit outside the nation’s capital to identify solutions to close the troubling disparity in academic performance between lower income and higher income students at advanced levels.

“Closing the Excellence Gap: Advocating for High-Achieving, Low-Income Students” was convened by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, which offers the largest scholarships in the country to high-performing students who have financial need.

Samudzi was invited by the Cooke Foundation to collaborate with more than 100 other principals of selective high schools as well as leaders of organizations such as the National Consortium of Secondary STEM Schools, researchers focused on high-achieving, low-income students, other scholarship providers, education advocates, and John B. King, Jr., senior advisor to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, to learn about cutting-edge research and share and identify best practices for supporting high-achieving, low-income students.

“We are leaders in our communities who have a stake in nurturing talent wherever we find it and regardless of a student’s economic status,” Samudzi said. “We need talent to remain competitive as a nation. This summit underscored the fact that the Missouri Academy is part of the solution.”

Said Harold Levy, executive director of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation and former chancellor of New York City Schools, “I wanted to bring these school leaders together to discuss how to better support high-performing students with financial need because I know the high caliber of their leadership and of the education provided at their schools. This summit confirmed my belief that these leaders have excellent insights to offer policymakers at all levels of government to benefit high-ability students from low and moderate income families.”

The Missouri Academy, located on the Northwest campus, is a two-year, residential, early-entrance-to-college program for academically talented and highly motivated high school students. High school students selected to enroll in the Missouri Academy have completed 10th grade, and the Missouri Academy replaces the junior and senior years of traditional high school. 

The curriculum is rigorous and consists of college coursework taught by Northwest faculty. Missouri Academy students sit in the same classrooms with traditional University students, and instructors have the same high expectations for Missouri Academy students as they do for traditional university students. High school students who complete the program earn an Associate of Science degree as well as a high school diploma. 

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is dedicated to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need. By offering the largest scholarships in the country, in-depth academic counseling and other direct services, the Foundation seeks to help high-performing, low-income students to develop their talents and excel educationally. In addition to providing students both counseling and financial support from middle school to graduate school, the Foundation provides grants for noteworthy and innovative initiatives that support high-performing, low-income students. Founded in 2000, the Foundation has awarded more than $130 million in scholarships to almost 1,900 students and more than $80 million in grants. www.jkcf.org.


For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
mhorn@nwmissouri.edu | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468