The largest grant ever received by the University of Missouri College of Education will support education in rural schools and help schoolchildren develop social skills.

The $14.6 million Supporting Effective Educator Development Grant from the U.S. Department of Education will be matched by $3.42 million from Kansas City Audio-Visual, which is also providing $400,000 to match a $4 million federal Education Innovation and Research Award. The total of $22.4 million in funding was announced Wednesday at the Reynolds Alumni Center.

"This is a remarkable achievement for a critical part of our university," Chancellor Alexander Cartwright said.

The grants were awarded to the Enhancing Missouri's Instructional Networked Teaching Strategies, or eMINTS, National Center in the college. The center is a partnership between MU, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Missouri Department of Higher Education. It was established in 2000 to help teachers meet the demands of the digital age. Its director, Christie Terry, said eMINTS staff work with trainers in 11 states to bring research-based training to teachers. It also serves as an outreach program for the College of Education.

The Supporting Effective Educator Development Grant will help MU increase science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, education in 58 high-need, rural middle schools in Missouri and Kansas over five years. Around 406 teachers and 26,796 students are expected to benefit.

"These two grants will have an incredible impact in rural schools in Missouri and Kansas," said Kathryn Chval, dean of the College of Education.

The college's associate dean for research, Christi Bergin, said the smaller grant would help develop social skills in schoolchildren.

"We are excited to help children learn social skills together in eMINTS classrooms," she said. The grant will train teachers in the best research on the subject.

"As a result we will have kinder students who will work as a team," Bergin said. "When students are in classrooms with classmates who are supportive, they are more engaged."

The Supporting Effective Educator Development Grant will use eMINTS to help MU increase STEM education in 58 high-need, rural middle schools in Missouri and Kansas over five years. Around 406 teachers and 26,796 students are expected to benefit.

Johannes Strobel, professor in the College of Education, introduced the grant by showing a video of a child being scolded by his mother for breaking several eggs around the house. Strobel said the child simply didn't trust that every egg would look the same inside.

"We want to make sure to allow children to break eggs on a regular basis," Strobel said.

Terry said the schools in the rural areas where the grant will be used are areas that have not yet recovered from the 2007-2008 recession and there's a real need for STEM education.

"These grants will give teachers and students the skills to work together to find solutions to problems, which is critical to our future," Chval said.

Chval said eMINTS has extensive experience in rural communities.

The grants are a validation of the work of the people in the College of Education, Cartwright said.

"The work they're doing goes right into the classroom," he said.

rmckinney@columbiatribune.com

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