Newman University embraces innovative partnership to address teacher shortage

May 02, 2024
Presidents from Newman University, Friends University, Southwestern College, Butler Community College and Cowley College come together to announce a new partnership to help address Kansas teacher shortage
Presidents from Newman University, Friends University, Southwestern College, Butler Community College and Cowley College come together to announce "Educate the State", a new partnership to benefit students and help address Kansas teacher shortage

Facing an acute teacher shortage in Kansas, Newman University has joined forces with several other institutions on an innovative solution, the Educate the State program, that aims to make teacher education more affordable and accessible.

At an announcement event held at Friends University on April 30, Newman President Kathleen Jagger joined the presidents of Friends University, Butler Community College, Cowley College and Southwestern College to officially launch the new partnership.

“This is a truly collaborative effort,” said Jagger. “We’re all here to create success opportunities for our students … helping them with that next step into finishing a bachelor’s degree.”

Kathleen S. Jagger - Newman University President
Kathleen Jagger speaks at media conference

The Educate the State program allows students to complete an associate’s degree at Butler or Cowley, then transfer to Newman, Friends or Southwestern to pursue a bachelor’s degree in secondary education. For their final two years, they’ll pay just $300 per credit hour at the private institutions. For students transferring to Newman through the program, the total cost would be approximately $9600 per year (does not include fees or room and board).

Beyond affordability, Jagger highlighted the benefits of completing a degree at a smaller, personalized institution like Newman.

“Students coming from Butler and Cowley are used to small class sizes,” she explained. “When they come to Newman, Friends or Southwestern, it’s that same individualized experience where they really know their professors.”

Jagger and superintendent of Catholic schools Janet Eaton
Jagger and superintendent of Catholic schools Janet Eaton

The collaboration could be particularly impactful for increasing the pipeline of teachers into Catholic schools across Kansas. As Janet Eaton, superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Wichita Diocese, put it: “We are desperate for teachers … this opportunity expands the availability for our graduates to become teachers who believe in their faith, live their faith, love their faith.”

Jagger echoed the value of mission-driven teachers educated in the Catholic tradition. “We are different than public schools, but we are mission-driven. Our teachers understand what it means to lead in that way.”

By increasing affordability and access, the presidents hope this pioneering partnership will encourage more students to pursue the critical calling of teaching.

Aligning with Newman’s mission

Jagger, whose institution was “founded nearly a century ago to meet the need for teachers,” believes the program aligns with Newman’s mission to “inspire and empower the next generation of exceptional teachers.”

Jagger signs agreement with community colleges
Jagger signs agreement with community colleges

“We’re following our founders, the ASC (Adorers of the Blood of Christ) sisters. It’s exactly what they did when they began Sacred Heart Junior College in 1933,” Jagger said.

Like then “some people don’t have access and one of the reasons they might not have access is because of affordability,” Jagger added, “There are many reasons. It could be the distance to a university… the need to take care of family. It could be lots of things preventing people from going on and going great to college but this hopefully will make it better.”

For students used to small class sizes at community colleges, the transition to Newman offers “that same individualized experience where they really know their professors,” Jagger explained.

During the announcement, Butler President Kim Krull highlighted the collaborative spirit of how the schools came together for the groundbreaking partnership, noting “every one of our institutions is about creating success … pathways for our students.”

She added, “We know what the teacher shortage is like in Kansas, and I think all of us know that the teachers that we educate stay in-state for the most part and stay in this area lots of times.”

Unique public-private partnership

Cowley President Michelle Schone, a former educator who attended a private four-year institution, admits a program like this would have been “huge” for her and called it “a great opportunity” that will “help provide for the workforce needs in our area, in the world of education, especially secondary education.”

Friends University President Amy Bragg Carey
Friends University president Carey

Friends President Amy Bragg Carey noted the collaboration demonstrates that “college is and can be affordable” thanks to the low $300 per credit hour rate from the private institutions, plus available scholarships for education students.

Southwestern President Elizabeth Frombgen recalled how the idea emerged from an early meeting, with all three private schools committing to “come up with a price point we could agree to … we left that room committed to it (Educate the State partnership).”

Southwestern College President Elizabeth Frombgen
Southwestern College president Frombgen

The presidents hope this example of cooperation can be replicated in other regions facing teacher shortages. As Jagger stated, “We need to encourage junior colleges in other parts of the state to collaborate with private schools…trying to meet the needs in education deserts.”

By making teaching degrees more affordable and accessible, the Educate the State program aims to “make a dent in the teacher shortage,” as Carey put it.

Jagger summed up the motivation: “The more we in higher ed focus on raising all boats, instead of competing, the more successful we’ll be. This is really a model for the state.”

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