Great Falls College, Montana State-Northern strengthen pathway to bachelor’s in education
Great Falls College MSU and Montana State University-Northern signed an agreement on Wednesday to strengthen a pathway to a bachelor's in education.
GREAT FALLS, Mont. – Great Falls College MSU and Montana State University-Northern signed an agreement Wednesday that will strengthen the ability of students in the Great Falls area to get a bachelor’s degree in education on the Great Falls College campus.
Students will get their first two years through Great Falls College and then take their second two years with Montana State-Northern on the beautiful Great Falls College campus.
“The entire Great Falls College team is eager to celebrate this agreement with Northern and to continue strengthening the bond between Montana State University institutions,” said Stephanie Erdmann, Great Falls College CEO/dean. “The way the MSU family works together makes us all stronger and is such a benefit to our students as we meet them where they live and where they work.”
Chancellor Greg Kegel and Provost R. Neil Moisey from MSU-Northern joined Erdmann and Dr. Leanne Frost, executive director of instruction at Great Falls College, to sign the agreement.
“This partnership is a perfect example of MSU-Northern’s ongoing commitment to support our Great Falls students and to meet the needs of Montana’s teacher shortage,” said MSU-Northern Provost and Academic Vice-chancellor Dr. R. Neil Moisey. "Articulation agreements allow students to move seamlessly from one institution to another. It is important to us that students not lose time or credits in the transition, and this agreement will assure that the transfer goes smoothly.”
Officials from Great Falls Public Schools joined the celebration for the program that will help fill the critical need of quality instructors in GFPS and throughout northcentral Montana.
"We're tickled there is an education program right here in Great Falls,” said Ruth Uecker, assistant superintendent K-6 at GFPS. “It gives us the opportunity to pluck those great teachers right out of that program and hire them right here in our district as soon as they graduate."
Past students have been impressed with the program and the seamless transition between institutions.
"It is very well planned out,” said Annie Poole, a 2021 graduate and student teacher at Mountainview Elementary.
“My advisor did a very good job of laying out everything I needed, and the staff walked through the financial stuff with me. It was a very positive experience."
The program is very hands-on and allows students to build strong relationships with one another and faculty members.
“You get a lot of one-on-one time with your professors, and you make really close connections because you are in a lot of the same classes,” said Emily Johnson, who also graduated from the program in 2021 and did her student teaching at Sacajawea Elementary. “I made a lot of friends.”
Rilee Peterson, a sixth-grade teacher at Riverview Elementary, said the program set her up for success in the classroom.
"It was a lot of real world; it wasn't just learning the content or learning how to do math or teach math but learning how to work with students," she said. "It was focusing on getting to know students and their well-being."
Marni Napierala is starting her third year as the coordinator of the program after serving as an adjunct for Northern on Great Falls College’s campus for 19 years. She is still a full-time teacher on assignment for Great Falls Public Schools helping teachers in the district with professional development.
"Because of my classwork with Great Falls Public Schools, working with new teachers who are hired and my love for children and wanting them to have the best experience they can have ... I just want to be sure we are turning out the very best teachers we can," Napierala said. "We can do that here in Great Falls."
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