Drury University, Nixa Public Schools partner in hybrid student teaching program to tackle teacher shortage

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Drury University and Nixa Public Schools have teamed up to form a hybrid model of student teaching for undergrad students at the college.

Students of the Panthers Interns program will spend two semesters inside the classroom at Nixa Schools to work alongside certified teachers. During the first semester, students will divide their time between class at Drury and the classrooms of Nixa. They’ll gain firsthand knowledge of how a public school classroom operates and will attend professional development activities. 

There is a current shortage of school teachers in the United States, but this program is welcome good news for Nixa Schools. The Panther Interns program will present the school district with a large pool of potential new hires to choose from once students have completed their student teaching experience. 

“It’s really exciting. It is definitely a group effort,” Dean of the School of Education and Child Development Natalie Precise told The Heartlander. 

“Our whole faculty and staff had a part in talking this through. I know other universities do the year-long experience, so giving our students this hybrid model is super cool. They are gonna get out of their undergrad degree with so much more experience, and I love that Nixa is promising them an interview if they go through this program. I hope they end up hiring them and feed teachers into the Nixa School District.”

Precise says a deal was struck between the two entities in January 2023, and that both institutions are very eager to work together. In addition, Precise says there is talk of the university possibly introducing the Panther Interns program to other school districts within the area.

“I hope the community and those considering education can see that universities and school districts are being collaborative and creative in thinking of ways to make becoming a teacher easier. We know we have a teacher shortage, and universities are trying very hard to help because we love our college students but are preparing them to help our K-12 students, too, in our communities.”

Nixa Schools and Drury University are both advertising the program. Students are not required to be a resident of Nixa to join the program. The only requirements are that they want to student teach would consider becoming a teacher in the Nixa School District. 

Those interested can reach out to Natalie Precise at Drury University to determine which classes they might need to complete to get enrolled into Panther Interns. 

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