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A redesigned curriculum and greater emphasis on diverse clinical experiences for education students at Northwest have helped the University earn the American Association of State Colleges and Universities' 2018 Christa McAuliffe Excellence in Teacher Education Award. (Photo by Todd Weddle/Northwest Missouri State University)

A redesigned curriculum and greater emphasis on diverse clinical experiences for education students at Northwest have helped the University earn the American Association of State Colleges and Universities' 2018 Christa McAuliffe Excellence in Teacher Education Award. (Photo by Todd Weddle/Northwest Missouri State University)

Aug. 24, 2018

AASCU honors Northwest with Christa McAuliffe Excellence in Teacher Education Award

The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) has announced this year’s Excellence and Innovation Award recipients, and Northwest Missouri State University will receive the association’s 2018 Christa McAuliffe Excellence in Teacher Education Award.

Northwest, which also earned the McAuliffe Award in 2006, becomes just the third institution in the nation to earn the award two times since its inception in 2002. The honor also marks the third time in four years that AASCU has recognized Northwest with an Excellence and Innovation Award.

“We take great pride in this national recognition as it recognizes an amazing and dedicated faculty and staff committed to a never-ending journey of continuously improving what we do,” Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski said. “Northwest’s DNA includes teacher education and AASCU’s recognition emboldens us to continue adjusting to needed teacher preparation enhancements. We are humbled and honored to receive this award and these continuing national recognitions solidify Northwest as an innovative leader focused on student success.”

The McAuliffe Award recognizes the culmination of Northwest’s work, begun in 2014 with collaboration and resources from University leadership and pre-K-12 partners, to overhaul the curriculum and clinical field experiences offered by its School of Education. The faculty-led redesign of the School’s curriculum placed greater emphasis on students’ access to diverse clinical practice – now totaling more than 600 hours – in urban, rural and suburban settings.

The redesigned programs involved extended partnerships with more than two dozen school systems, with an emphasis on assessment and instruction practices yielding high-impact results for student learning. The new curriculum also has Northwest students engaged in practice by the third week of their freshman year.

Additionally, students participate in a professional learning community to learn from their experiences, while the curriculum focuses on improving students’ instructional techniques and classroom management strategies as well as multi-subject, integrated lesson plans.

“At Northwest Missouri State, we’ve been in the business of preparing great educators for more than 100 years, and receiving this recognition honors the innovative spirit our faculty showed in redesigning and strengthening our already strong programs,” Dr. Tim Wall, the dean of Northwest’s School of Education, said. “Our work helps Northwest students become teachers who positively impact society and make a difference that will be well-appreciated for generations.”

Northwest, which was founded in 1905 as the Fifth District Normal School for the purpose of training teachers, has evolved into a coeducational, primarily residential four-year university that offers a broad range of undergraduate and selected graduate programs on its Maryville campus as well as its Northwest-Kansas City location at the Northland Innovation Center and through Northwest Online.

Since 1906, the Horace Mann Laboratory School has been a hallmark of Northwest and its teacher training program, providing an on-campus clinical teaching environment for University students while serving local children in kindergarten through sixth grade. Additionally, early childhood programs for children age 3 through pre-kindergarten are offered at the Phyllis and Richard Leet Center for Children and Families.

The mission of Northwest’s School of Education centers on the preparation of effective teachers and leaders to apply best practices to positively impact learning. One-hundred percent of students graduating from the School complete a profession-based internship or teaching practicum as part of their degree, and 96 percent are employed or enrolled in graduate school within sixth months of completing their undergraduate degrees. Additionally, 100 percent of K-12 graduates at Northwest scored above the state average as “Effective Educators” on the Missouri Effective Educator System, and 95 percent of principals say their Northwest graduates were “well-prepared” to teach, according to a 2016 survey.

“Clinical practices are where magic happens,” Wall said. “When a theory that our students hear about from a professor comes to fruition with what they’ve seen in actual classrooms and schools, our students develop an entirely new perspective. Our curriculum is not just two or three years of theory and a little bit of dabbling with clinical experience. We engage fully in clinical practice from the ground up, every semester.”

This Excellence and Innovation awards program, now in its fifth year, honors AASCU member institutions for excellence and innovation in the areas of regional and economic development, student success and college completion, sustainability and sustainable development, teacher education, international education, and leadership development and diversity.

Winning entries must show evidence that the institution’s initiative had top-level administrative support, connected with its mission and strategic agenda, contributed to significant institutional improvements or programming, was grounded in research, and incorporated best practices.

Northwest, which AASCU recognized for sustainability and sustainable development last year and for international education in 2015, will formally receive the McAuliffe Award Oct. 28 at the opening session of AASCU’s Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.  

Other colleges and universities to receive Excellence and Innovation Awards this year are Western Carolina University in North Carolina, Savannah State University in Georgia, Buffalo State College in New York, University of Memphis, California State University in Sacramento, University of Central Oklahoma, State University of New York-Oneonta, Grand Valley State University in Michigan.

“These institutions demonstrate the commitment of America’s state colleges and universities to Deliver America’s Promise by championing innovation, prioritizing student success, and providing critical contributions to the economic and civic progress of their communities,” AASCU President Dr. Mildred García said. “We are privileged to honor programs that can serve as an inspiration to all of higher education.”

To learn more about Northwest’s School of Education, visit

AASCU is a Washington, D.C.-based higher education association of about 400 public colleges, universities and systems whose members share a learning- and teaching-centered culture, a historic commitment to underserved student populations and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economic progress and cultural development.


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