Friday, February 20, 2015

Webster Receives $100k Fulbright Grant

Department of Education grant will fund a six-week travel seminar in Brazil
ST. LOUIS (NOV. 18, 2014) - The U.S. Department of Education awarded a grant of $107,495 to Webster University under the Fulbright-Hays International and Foreign Language Group Projects Abroad program. This grant will fund a six-week travel seminar in Brazil to study Brazilian culture and Portuguese language through the lens of environmental sustainability and will be led by Project Director Deborah Pierce, director of the Center for International Education at Webster.
"Educating students as global citizens naturally entails knowledge of the issues that advance or threaten global sustainability,” said President Elizabeth (Beth) J. Stroble. “This project provides a dynamic international opportunity for members of the Webster University faculty to study with area educators in ways that increase participants' knowledge, inform curriculum and public discourse, and influence environmental commitments worldwide.”
The goal of the GPA short-term project is to provide grants to support overseas training, research, and curriculum development in modern foreign languages and area studies for teachers, students, and faculty engaged in a common endeavor. For this project, Pierce will lead a team of Webster faculty and area high school teachers to several locations inBrazil where they will address critical issues in environmental sustainability, such as industrial pollution, landfill usage, and sustainable agriculture while also participating in rigorous Portuguese language immersion and lessons. Upon their return, participants will write model lesson plans, design curricular modules, incorporate what they learn in existing or new courses dealing with environmental sustainability, and share their experiences at public events.
“The intent of the project is for our team to become more aware of environmental issues that affect the rest of the world and to bring those issues back to the classroom at home,” Pierce said. “Those traveling on this project will work on lesson plans and research projects directly related to the environmental issues we’re studying so that this project will have an impact beyond our period overseas. In addition, the goal is to increase Portuguese language skills amongst participants.”
A total of 10 teachers from area schools will be selected to participate in the project which will take place in the summer of 2015. 
For more information our MA in Education for Global Sustainability and other programs, visit the School of Education's website.

Adding Up 50 Years of Shaping Educators

Webster University’s Master’s Degree program for mathematics educators is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
November 10, 2014 – Throughout Webster University’s 100-year history, the school has responded to the needs of the St. Louis community in a variety of ways, such as offering scholarships, providing volunteers to local charities, and turning to the community for new program ideas. The Master of Arts in Teaching Mathematics is one such example; the program began 50 years ago at the request of local leaders.

In 1963, superintendents from the Ladue, Parkway and Clayton school districts asked Webster College’s then Vice-President, Sister Jacqueline Grennan, to offer graduate programs in mathematics and science for elementary school teachers.  The superintendents said their teachers already had strong pedagogical skills, but lacked an adequate understanding of the mathematics and science content they taught. With the aid of a 1964 grant from the Ford Foundation, MAT programs in science and math were launched. The science program has been discontinued, but the math program is still part of Webster’s graduate offerings.

Andrea Rothbart has taught in the graduate math program for 44 years.

“Initially, the MAT programs were offered primarily during the summer.  Hundreds of teachers from around the country would come to Webster College to study math or science,” Rothbart said. “During a six week summer session, faculty and students interacted all day, Monday through Friday, through a variety of experiences in addition to courses; including interdisciplinary seminars, mini-courses, events called ‘common experiences,’ and even Friday evening entertainment which featured lectures from well-known educators, or shows we put on ourselves.  It required five summers of these intensive interactions to earn a master’s degree.”

Over the years, the math program evolved to focus on graduate level mathematics courses for practicing secondary and community college math teachers.  “The program has become an M.A. in Mathematics for Educators,” Rothbart said. “In addition to 6 week summer sessions, 16 week fall and spring courses have been designed to motivate teachers to deeply examine mathematical ideas.”

Craig Hannick teaches mathematics at Saint Louis University High School and has been an adjunct faculty member in this program for more than 20 years. He said Webster’s Mathematics for Educators degree is designed specifically to give students an intensive education in mathematics.

“The design of the program allows us to investigate the breadth of mathematics and the depth as well,” Hannick said. “This depth gives our students a firm foundation from which they return to their classrooms well prepared to teach the content found in high school and community college mathematics courses.”

For students, the longer courses and intense focus on mathematics are selling points for the program.

Susan Riegel, a math teacher at Webster Groves High School, graduated from the program in May.  “We covered a lot of material and eight weeks would have simply not been enough to explore a topic in depth,” she said.

Kurt Kleinberg also graduated from the program and teaches mathematics at Clayton High School. “I think the 16 week structure is necessary to digest the material appropriately,” he said.  He added that “the program is pure math and that although we occasionally talk about different teaching strategies and how to present lessons, the bulk of the program is about doing and experiencing math.”

Rothbart believes that this focus on mathematics is essential to Webster students’ success.Andrea Rothbart

“Teachers need a deep understanding and a personal perspective on whatever they are hoping to communicate.  Personality characteristics such as patience, empathy, humor and the ability to establish rapport with students are certainly helpful, but are far from sufficient.“

Rothbart added, “For a long time, Webster had the only graduate program in the country that offered mathematics courses designed for educators - elsewhere, teachers typically study methods and materials. However in recent years, with our nation’s keen awareness of how poorly most math teachers understand their subject, new graduate programs similar to ours have been cropping up.  Our program is rather ‘a poster child.’”

In recent years, school districts around the nation have increased their focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses and Rothbart believes programs like Webster's make a difference in the quality of the learning experiences of school children.

“Occasionally we receive a letter from a school principal raving about their math teachers who graduated from our program.”

Kelli Roberts, who has two master’s degrees in Math for Educators from Webster, is a math teacher at Oakville High School and said that figuring out how to help struggling students is one of the most rewarding parts of her job.

“What I enjoy most is getting the chance to help my students excel at a subject that they’ve always hated,” she said. “Other math teachers told me how challenging yet enjoyable Webster’s program was.”  She added that by observing how her instructors taught and by thinking deeply about mathematics, she became able to create new ways to teach the material to her students so that they could finally understand it.

Rothbart noted that it is not uncommon for students who earn a master’s degree in Webster’s math program, to return for a second master’s degree with an emphasis in a different area of mathematics.  “It is about the greatest compliment to our program that I can imagine when students continue studying math with us, even after they have earned their degree.  We even attract community college teachers who already have a master’s degree in mathematics from another university, because of our reputation among area math teachers.”

Rothbart added, "I am so proud and feel so lucky to have been a part of this program. I know we have done well by our students and have made a difference."

To learn more about the Masters of Arts in Mathematics for Educators, click here.

In association with the Webster University Centennial, the School of Education faculty and staff invite you to a celebration of 50 years of graduate education programs at Webster University.

The event will be held Wednesday, Nov. 12, with a reception from 4:30-5:30 p.m. in the Webster Groves Room of Webster Hall. Following the reception, the celebration and presentation Beacons of Change: 50 Years of Educational Transformation will take place in the Winifred Moore Auditorium from 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Webster alumni, students and faculty are encouraged to come and share their Webster experiences, through the decades. Centennial door prizes will be awarded for attendees.

You can register for the event here.

This article originally appeared on

For more information about our MA in Mathematics for Educators and other programs, visit the School of Education website.

School of Education Receives “Teachers Matter” Grant from Boeing

The grant will fund the development of an innovative teacher education course with The Soulard School in St. Louis
ST. LOUIS (SEPT. 29, 2014) - The Boeing Company awarded a grant to a team of faculty members in the Webster University School of Education to develop an innovative teacher education course with The Soulard School in St. Louis.
The innovative course funded by the grant will combine an early field experience in The Soulard School with problem-based learning in the community as well as online learning.
“This partnership will enable us to prepare teachers in the context of a diverse, high quality, urban school where our faculty and the Soulard teachers partner to provide learning experiences that benefit teacher candidates and children alike,” said Brenda Fyfe, dean of Webster’s School of Education. “The additional focus on joint research by faculty and school educators supports mutual professional development and opportunities for scholarship that will contribute to the professional knowledge base on teacher education.”
The grant is called “Teachers Matter: Promoting Partnership & Measuring Efficacy in Teacher Preparation.” The program underscores a commitment to teacher preparation that is not just theoretical, but experiential and is also responsive to the needs of a changing community.
The course being reshaped by the grant is the initial professional introduction in Webster’s Master’s of Teaching (MAT) certification program. The Boeing grant allows the faculty to increase high-impact learning experiences and add more research-based approaches that allow new teachers to successfully respond to 21st century learner needs. The new course will combine the experiential learning approaches that Webster University is known for along with online learning and community engagement.
“For Boeing this is an exciting opportunity to invest in a collaborative, community-based project that supports teacher preparation,” said Jeff Sweet, manager of Global Corporate Citizenship. “Boeing is focused on ensuring that all students have the 21st century skills, knowledge and experience to be successful in life, and in order to do this we need to create teacher preparation experiences that enable them to effectively teach these skills.”
Sarah Christman, executive director of The Soulard School, said the partnership of the grant brings together institutions committed to transforming education. “Our school is dedicated to students demonstrating their vast abilities and strengths. We are excited to support future educators to do the same and open them up to a world of possibility and potential."
School of education faculty members Stephanie Mahfood, Basiyr Rodney, Joe Sencibaugh, and Paula Witkowski, worked collaboratively with development officers Brittany Douglas from Webster and Erin Quick from the Soulard School to apply for the grant. 
This article originally appeared on

For more information about our teacher education programs visit the School of Education website

A Long Overdue Recognition

Donald Cook and family at the medal ceremonyColonel Steven Liddy, a Webster University student, helped professor Virginia Altrogge's father achieve recognition for his service
ST. LOUIS, July 2, 2014 – During advising appointments, faculty members meet with students to ensure they are on track with their educational plans and getting all of the help they need.  But sometimes, the opposite happens and students find a way to help their professors.

Virginia Altrogge, an associate professor in the School of Education at Webster University, met with Colonel Steven Liddy, a student pursuing an EdS in Educational Leadership, he noticed a photo of her father, Donald Cook, who had served in the Army Infantry in World War II.

“Steve asked if my father had received all of his medals,” said Altrogge. “He said a lot of World War II veterans did not get all of their medals and he asked if I’d mind if he looked into it.”

Cook had already received three Purple hearts and a Silver Star in the Battle of Luzon in 1945. Liddy believed that there were more honors that Cook had earned but had probably not received.

Donald Cook receiving medals“It was common for records to be incomplete when veterans came home in 1944-46,” said Liddy. “I saw the Combat Infantryman Badge in the photos on Dr. Altrogge’s wall and that keyed me into the type of unit which her father belonged.”

In a few weeks, Liddy had some paperwork that needed to be signed. He made a two-hour trip to Lesterville, Missouri so that Cook was able to sign some military  papers and move the medal process forward.

While the events of the war took place in the 1940s, the process of receiving the medals moved forward once Liddy became involved and finally, on Sunday, May 18, 2014, Donald Cook received his medals at a ceremony at his home in Lesterville, Missouri.

Army Major General Thomas Richardson, commanding general of Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command presided over the event. Several other officers attended the event with Maj. Gen. Richardson along with the Scott Fair Band Color Guard and the brass quintet, Airlifter, of the U.S. Air Force Band of Mid-America.

At the ceremony, Cook was presented with a United States Congressional Record as well as a Missouri State Resolution recognizing his service to his country. He received a letter and a unit coin from the current commander of the 27th Infantry Regiment along with two certificates and a letter of appreciation from the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. A United States flag was also presented. The flag had been flown over the U.S. Capitol on the 69th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day.  Cooks records were completed by the presentation of The Silver Star, the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart with three oak leaf clusters, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with two service stars, the World War II Victory Medal, the Army of Occupation Medal with Japan Clasp, the Philippine Liberation Medal, the Philippine Republic Presidential Unit Citation, the Missouri Veterans World War II medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge and the Honorable Discharge Lapel Button.

Altrogge said her father was overwhelmed by the event.

“He couldn’t believe it. He couldn’t believe this was happening after all of these years,” she said. “His service in the army happened when he was 19 and 20-years old. For him to have been so young and won so many medals and awards is inspirational. He took risks to save his men and was wounded and that’s part of the reason he got the Silver Star. He was a courageous platoon leader.  He went first to saved his men. I am proud of my father’s leadership and service to our country.”

Altrogge said none of this would have happened without Liddy’s help.  Liddy researched her father’s army records, arranged the patriotic ceremony in her parent’s backyard and even brought his adult children to help – and never took any credit.

Cook's medals“My father was in the army and Steve took this on as a Colonel in the Air Force. He got an army general to present the medals. Colonel Liddy’s actions are altruistic. It shows his integrity, leadership ability, sense of patriotic duty and allegiance to a fellow soldier.”

Liddy said, “In our Educational Leadership classes, we are engrossed in the topics of ethics, values, fairness and integrity. We look out to the diversity of the world and embrace it. Diversity is not just color or culture, but can be as simple as the differences between brother and sister. In this case the diversity refers to that group of people Tom Brokaw named ‘The Greatest Generation.’ It was that generation that built this country to its greatness. How could one not exert every effort to ensure Mr. Donald L. Cook was properly recognized with the awards and decorations so well earned and deserved?”

Cook celebrates his 90th birthday on July 2.

All photos are courtesy of Clinton Volner Photography.

This article originally appeared on

Global Art

Webster University graduate student uses art to help students experience the human spirit
ST. LOUIS, May 20, 2014 – Abby Birhanu began pursuing her master’s degree in Applied Educational Psychology in the School of Education at Webster University to help her become a better teacher.

“I wanted to learn more about how the human brain learns best,” said Birhanu. “I wanted to better understand diverse learning and teaching styles to better accommodate a diverse group of students.”

Reaching a diverse group of students is a challenge she faces head-on at St. Charles High School in Missouri where she works as an art teacher. Birhanu wanted to find a way to teach her own students about art while also raising their awareness of how people live all over the world.

“I've traveled quite a bit so I understand that people are likely to relate to one another when given the opportunity,” she said. “We can always vicariously learn and grow from each others experiences. I wanted to give students an avenue by which to travel indirectly and experience the human spirit.”

Birhanu created The Global Art Project using an alumni grant from the Fulbright Teachers Exchange Program. Under her leadership and coordination, 66 students between the ages of 12 and 18 from four different countries created a cross-cultural art project.

Students from St. Charles High School worked with students from The Christian Activity Center in East St. Louis, Illinois; Schiller-Gymnasium in Ludwigsburg, Germany; Charters in Sunningdale, United Kingdom and Kombolcha Primary School in Kombolcha, Ethiopia. They each contributed to artwork focusing on ten topics: love, relationships, religion, community, education, nationality, holidays, storytelling, music and traditions.

Students in St. Charles selected the topics and began the artwork.
Student in St. Charles works on the global art project“They began drawing what each of these topics mean to them - one theme for each student so there were 10 students in total,” said Birhanu. “They used only a small section of the 18 x 24 paper given to them to allow their international peers to fill in the rest.” Birhanu took the art with her to Germany when she accompanied a student exchange her school participates in. She brought the work with her to Ethiopia while visiting her brother who is serving in the Peace Corps. The grant allowed her to travel to England and bring the art to Sunningdale.

“Teachers from each of those schools were pivotal in helping me organize this project and I am grateful to have a willing group of people in a network that spans so large to help,” she said “I took the works everywhere I went and showed them pictures of the students working on the projects so they were able to read and see what the students did previously. The 10 drawing papers were filled when I returned to Missouri and the students at St. Charles then unified the works by making visual connections and filling in the gaps.”

She said students learned a lot by participating in the project.

“My students were surprised by how diverse their peer’s cultural backgrounds were even though we only included four countries,” Birhanu said. “This project showed us how globalized our world has become as a lot of the students were of different nationalities, not only American, German, and Ethiopian but also Turkish, Croatian, Jamaican, Finnish and more.”
Abby Birhanu teaching in EthiopiaThe Global Art Project was displayed in St. Louis last year and also was shared in all of the participating communities through a traveling art show. Each participating student received a booklet of the art to keep.

Birhanu hopes to expand the project to countries in Asia and South America and then develop a public art project for the students.

“I hope all who come across this project will engage in the dialogue presented by the artists and seek opportunities to continue the conversation,” said Birhanu.

To view more work from the Global Art Project – visit Birhanu's website.

Harbin Exchange Moves Forward

DJ Kaiser in Harbin classroomFaculty and staff from Webster University traveled to Harbin University in China in early March to continue preparations for the student exchange agreement signed in 2013.
ST. LOUIS, April 7, 2014 – Faculty and staff from Webster University traveled to Harbin University in China in early March to continue preparations for the student exchange agreement signed in 2013.

Harbin University students will study in Harbin during their first two years in that school’s undergraduate program. Credits earned during that time will transfer to Webster in the students' third year, where the students will complete their bachelor's degrees in Educational Studies. Upon completion, the students will each earn a double bachelor's degree, with one BA from Harbin and the other from Webster's School of Education. The arrangement is designed to help the students become fluent in the English language and learn teaching techniques used in the United States.

DJ Kaiser, an assistant professor and coordinator of Teaching English as a Second Language in Webster’s School of Education, met with Harbin University administrators and professors.  Nelly Zhang and Rick Foristel from Webster China were also in Harbin for the meetings.

“I was able to sit down with administrators from Harbin University and get a better understanding of their programs and help generate ideas,” Kaiser said. “I observed two of their English education classes and also observed a middle school class in China so I can better understand what these students need to be prepared to do when they go back to China at the end of the exchange.”

Kaiser said English is a part of the national curriculum in China but very few educators have the opportunity to live in an English-speaking country.

During his time in Harbin, Kaiser tested prospective students. Students interested in coming to Webster University for twoClassroom in Chinayears have to complete a reading and writing assessment, a listening assessment, an interview and complete a presentation.

“For the next step in the process, my colleagues and I have to go through the assessments and rate their English skills with the rubrics we’ve created,” said Kaiser.

In addition to the assessments, the School of Education is doing a great deal of work to ensure that this program is a success.

“We’re working on a bridge program so that those coming over will have a few weeks in a special intensive English program,” Kaiser said. “This will help address language, culture and also the content needs to help prepare them for their degree program in educational studies.”

Harbin University also plans to send a faculty member to St. Louis each semester. The faculty member will take graduate-level courses in the Teaching English as a Second Language program and could potentially have the opportunity observe K-12 classes in the St. Louis area.

Kaiser said the program is also beneficial to Webster University’s current students.

“Students here are going to have access to students from outside of the United States who have a different view on education and a different view on the purpose of learning a language,” said Kaiser. “When you realize that many people who are learning English will probably never go to the United States, Australia or the United Kingdom, it changes your whole perspective on what it means to learn a foreign language.”

Kaiser said the entire School of Education is working hard to iron out the details of the arrangement so that students within the next year. Beyond the degree requirements, they are coordinating with the Study Abroad office and the Confucius Institute to organize other details such as student visas, student finances, housing, faculty expectations and educational differences between the two countries. Despite the effort involved with the partnership, Kaiser believes arrangements like this are important.

“We are a global university and if we don’t do this, we’re not meeting our mission or goals,” he said. “If we can get this as a model that works, we can replicate this with other universities and other programs. I think the more partnerships we have, the stronger our university can be.”

Webster University operates programs in three other cities in China, including Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu. The Shanghai Joint MBA Program with Shanghai University of Finance and Economics has graduated more than 1,500 students from the program since its start in 1996. The Chengdu Joint MBA with University of Electronic Science and Technology China is 10 years old and is the only international non-Chinese language MBA program in all of west and southwest China.  
This article originally appeared on

For more information about our MA in Teaching English as a Second Language and other programs, visit the School of Education website

A Chance to Change Lives

Webster University's Applied Educational Psychology program gave Laura Axtetter the chance to achieve one of her life goals
ST. LOUIS – When Laura (McKinney) Axtetter was 12 years old, China first began allowing international adoptions. A news story on Chinese orphanages affected Axtetter so deeply that she made it her goal to work with children in Chinese orphanages.

“I knew at that point that I wanted to do something to help the orphans in China,” said Axtetter. “For 20 years I have wanted to be involved in this cause, but I had no idea how to get involved.”

That all changed in 2011, when Axtetter’s began working on her master’s degree at Webster in Applied Educational Psychology. She heard about the program from Deborah Stiles, a professor in the School of Education.

“This major offered a combination of my three main educational interests,” said Axtetter. “It focused on the psychology of teaching and global outreach. I was excited about the opportunity for research as well as the opportunity to obtain credentials in psycho-educational assessment.”

She was able to combine her interest in child development and psychology and her passion for the improvement of Chinese orphanages through the program. Her thesis focuses on the development of female Chinese adoptees in transracial families. It was during the research of this paper in 2013 that she learned about a trip that A Helping Hand Adoption Agency planned to take to China.

“The agency had just been given the opportunity to team up with an orphanage in China through the China Center for Child Welfare and Adoption One-to-One program,” said Axtetter. “This program matches adoption agencies with specific orphanages so that the agency is able to establish close working relationships with the orphanage staff, as well as provide support and advocacy for children it the orphanage. One focus of the agency is to help find families for their children with special needs.”

The adoption agency was paired with a small orphanage in Beiliu City, in southern China. Axtetter forwarded her educational background and thesis abstract to the agency and received word a few days later that she would take part in the travel group along with another educator, two physical therapists, an occupational therapist and others. The team would work to improve the living conditions at the orphanage.

“It’s hard to fathom the conditions and circumstances these children endure on a daily basis,” she said. “With so many under the care of only two caregivers per shift, individual interaction is extremely limited. With the exception of one hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon, young children spend all of their day in bed. They don’t have a chance to experience even the simplest toys and activities that we take for granted in America.”Orphanage in China

The team from A Helping Hand Adoption Agency completed a physical assessment of each child and also donated thousands of dollars worth of rehabilitation equipment such as wheelchairs, walkers, braces, special shoes and chairs.

“We were able to work with the caregivers to show them how to use the equipment and explain the benefits. It was so exciting when we arrived on our second day to find that the caregivers had already placed several children in the corner chair or on wedges. This was a great improvement over the previous day when the children with severe disabilities had been laying on the floor or in their beds. To us, this meant the caregivers were listening, observing and learning from us – they were showing us that they wanted to make improvements for the children.”

Axtetter said that the work that they provided could mean that more of the children will be available for adoption.

“The number of adoptions had greatly declined over the past several years as more of the children living in the orphanage had been categorized as special needs,” said Axtetter. “Through our assessments with the children, we were able to convince the directors that many of the children should have their files prepared for adoption. As a direct result of our time there, six files are being prepared, meaning that if all of the paperwork goes through, six children will be eligible for adoption very soon. Twelve more children are expected to be added to that list in the near future – hopefully resulting in the adoption of 18 children.”

Child in chinese orphanageAxtetter said that the research she’s done during the Applied Educational Psychology program was very helpful during the trip and she feels she was able to use what she’s learned at Webster University to help make a difference.

“My research gave me an understanding of the effects institutionalization has on children. I was able to interact with the children in a way that was supportive and appropriate for their level of physical and social emotional development.”

Deborah Stiles, coordinator of the Applied Educational Psychology program at Webster says that this combination of research and hands-on experience is the core of the program.

“We apply knowledge and we contribute,” said Stiles. “Applied Educational Psychology students are contributing to the ‘knowledge base’ in the fields of educational psychology and school psychology. The students are integrating research and practical experience to meet the diverse needs of children all over the world.”

Axtetter said that this experience is just the beginning of her work. She plans to go back to China and also speaks to classes at Webster and outside groups hoping to encourage others to help.

“These are all things that I never would have done without the confidence that my professors have shown in me. Their belief in me made me believe in myself enough to step outside of my comfort zone and achieve my dreams. Working in the orphanages of China seemed like an unattainable goal a few years ago. Grad school opened doors that changed my life forever.” 
For more information on A Helping Hand, visit the agency’s website at
For more information on an MA in Applied Educational Psychology, visit the School of Education’s website.

Grant from U.S. Bank Foundation Supports Webster University's Student Literacy Corps

U.S. Bank Foundation has awarded a $25,000 grant to Webster University's Student Literacy Corps  
ST. LOUIS, September 11, 2013 – U.S. Bank Foundation has awarded a $25,000 grant to Webster University's Student Literacy Corps (SLC).  The grant will go toward educational supplies and also stipends for student tutors who provide one-on-one instruction to low-literacy children and adults.

“For too many students, literacy is a barrier rather than a threshold to learning,” said Webster University President Elizabeth “Beth” J. Stroble. “The Webster University Student Literacy Corps, established in 1990, has excelled in providing tutoring support with a track record of success that enables learning on the part of the students and their tutors. The support of the U. S. Bancorp Foundation is instrumental to the program's continued success in serving new and struggling readers in our community.”

The Student Literacy Corps began as a service-learning project within the Webster University School of Education. Now entering its 23rd year, the program places more than 50 student tutors each semester. They tutor in schools and other educational programs serving “high-needs” populations, that is students from low-income communities and from families whose adult members have low levels of literacy and education, as well as students who do not have an English speaker in the home. During the 2012-2013 academic year, Webster University students tutored more than 900 struggling readers at 23 locations throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area including schools, homeless shelters and adult education programs.

The SLC program brings struggling readers, their teachers and SLC tutors together in a highly successful partnership that provides a consistent schedule of one-on-one sessions with the same tutor for a semester or more. The SLC tutors are close in age to their students which promotes a uniquely effective bond. This proven model fosters an individualized tutoring relationship that can overcome common barriers to literacy learning such as low self-esteem, mistrust, alienation and language issues.

“We are extremely grateful to U.S. Bank Foundation for its support for this program,” said Brenda Fyfe, dean of the Webster University School of Education. “We receive positive feedback from teachers and principals whose students have been tutored by the Student Literacy Corps. They've told us they would like to see even more students receive tutoring. This grant creates an opportunity for more Webster University students to become tutors while also allowing us to expand our library of books and teaching tools that engage learners in reading.

"At U.S. Bank, we believe that strong communities are built on strong foundations," said Joe Imbs, St. Louis market president for U.S. Bank. "To help build those foundations, U.S. Bank invests in innovative programs like Webster University's Student Literacy Corps. The work that these organizations do each and every day out makes a lasting, positive impact on our local community."

About U.S. Bank FoundationThrough the U.S. Bank Foundation, U.S. Bank provided more than $23 million in cash grants to qualified nonprofit organizations in 2013. Tax-exempt 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations in U.S. Bank's 25-state banking region that are interested in applying for a grant should review our grant guidelines and grant application at Questions should be directed to the appropriate charitable giving contact.

About U.S. BankU.S. Bancorp (NYSE:USB), with $353 billion in assets as of June 30, 2013, is the parent company of U.S. Bank, the 5th largest commercial bank in the United States. Celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, the company operates 3,087 banking offices in 25 states and 5,032 ATM and provides a comprehensive line of banking, brokerage, insurance, investment, mortgage, trust and payment services products to consumers, businesses and institutions. Visit U.S. Bancorp on the web at

About Webster UniversityWith its home campus in St. Louis, Webster University ( is the only Tier 1, private, non-profit U.S.-based university providing a network of international residential campuses and a robust online learning program. Founded in 1915, Webster University's campus network today includes metropolitan, military and corporate locations around the world, as well as traditional residential campuses in Asia, Europe and North America, with a campus in Africa expected to open in 2014. The university is committed to delivering high-quality learning experiences that transform students for global citizenship and individual excellence.
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For more information about our teacher education program, visit the School of Education website

Webster, Harbin Universities Start Joint Language Program

Chinese students will study English at Webster's home campus
Webster officials meet representatives from Harbin UniversitySt. Louis - Webster University has entered into a student exchange agreement with Harbin University, a highly-respected Chinese university, located just north of the Korean Peninsula and adjacent to southeastern Russia.
Under the agreement, Harbin students studying to become K-12 English language teachers will spend their junior and senior years at Webster University's School of Education, located on its home campus in St. Louis. The new arrangement is designed to help the students become fluent in the English language and gain additional skill in the art of teaching.   
Webster University Provost Julian Schuster signed documents with Vice President Fan Qian of Harbin University at Webster's main campus in Webster Groves on Aug. 8.
“Webster is a truly international university, one that recognizes the value of creating global citizens prepared for the increasingly-connected world that awaits them,” said Julian Schuster, Provost, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. “This agreement will further increase our student's exposure to different cultures and values and enhance their understanding of how the citizens of the world interact.”
Under the terms of the agreement, a new program will be created where the English language teaching students will study in Harbin during their first two years in Harbin's undergraduate program. Credits earned during that time will then be transferred to Webster in the students' third year, where the students will complete their bachelor's degrees in education. Upon completion, the students will each earn a double bachelor's degree, with one BA from Harbin and the other from Webster's School of Education.
“My understanding is that both the local government at Harbin and the provincial government in China are committed to increasing English use throughout the province in their K through 12 school system, so there is a high demand for English language instructors there,” said Brenda Fyfe, dean of the School of Education. “There already is a team of instructors from both Harbin and Webster working together on the curriculum and standards for this program.” 
In early August, Harbin University Vice President Fan Qian, Ge Baoxiang, the dean of Harbin's Foreign Language School, and Harbin Professor Wang Lei met with several Webster University deans and Provost Schuster to discuss the program and sign the agreement. 
It's anticipated that the first Harbin students will arrive on the Webster Groves campus in 2014.
Harbin University is located in the extreme northeast of China. The City of Harbin is located near Vladivostok, Russia and North Korea. The province, Heilongjiang, is one of the most productive agriculture areas in all of China, and the soil and climate is often compared to the agricultural areas of Central Illinois and Ohio.
Webster University operates programs in three other cities in China, including Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu. The Shanghai Joint MBA Program with Shanghai University of Finance and Economics has graduated more than 1,500 students from the program since its start in 1996. The Chengdu Joint MBA with University of Electronic Science and Technology China is 10 years old and is the only international non-Chinese language MBA program in all of west and southwest China.  
With its home campus in St. Louis, Webster University ( is the only Tier 1, private, non-profit U.S.-based university providing a network of international residential campuses and a robust online learning program. Founded in 1915, Webster University's campus network today includes metropolitan, military and corporate locations around the world, as well as traditional residential campuses in Asia, Europe and North America. A campus in Africa is expected to open in the near future. The university is committed to delivering high-quality learning experiences that transform students for global citizenship and individual excellence.
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For information about our MA in Teaching English as a Second Language and other programs, visit the School of Education website

Creating Global Citizens Through Sustainability Education

The third annual Sustainability Institute for P12 educators will take place June 25-27, 2013.

ST. LOUIS, June 10, 2013 – Teaching children about climate change and sustainability is commonly part of a biology curriculum or perhaps a thematic unit around Earth Day, but Lori Diefenbacher, coordinator of education for sustainability and adjunct faculty member in Webster University's School of Education, says educators can do more.

“Sustainability in education is more than recycle bins in the classroom, it's about global citizenship,” said Diefenbacher. “As educators we should be helping students analyze what they are doing, where they are going and how these decisions impact their neighbors locally and globally.”

Having educators realize the benefits of interdisciplinary sustainability education is one of the main goals of the third annual Sustainability Institute for P12 Educators held at Webster University's East Academic Building June 25-27, 2013. The three-day hands-on workshop will focus on the issues of climate change and how educators can bring awareness to our youth to help them learn to be responsible and to take action for a safer and more sustainable future.

“We need to be teaching for a sustainable future,” said Diefenbacher. “Sustainability curriculum can be a thread in the behavioral sciences, social sciences, art and languages.”

The event is hosted by Webster University, Missouri Botanical Garden, U.S. Green Building Council – Missouri Gateway Chapter and the Saint Louis Zoo. Throughout the three days, speakers and hands-on workshops will focus on the issue of climate change and how educators can bring awareness to students to help them learn to be responsible and take action for a safer and more sustainable environment.

Bob Shaw is the science department chair at Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School and is an adjunct faculty member at Webster University; he will be presenting a session on sustainable food in schools at the Sustainability Institute. Shaw says MICDS has worked to incorporate sustainability lessons throughout their school

“We have woven sustainability into several areas of the curriculum,” said Shaw. “We have sustainability lessons in the Lower School and as students advance throughout their studies they learn more about climate change, invasive species and water quality. Students in eighth grade complete a Sustainability Project as a part of their capstone to Middle School. Additionally we have a goal to be a Zero Waste School by diverting nine of every ten pounds of waste from landfills.”

Shaw said that schools can make small environmentally friendly changes and then increase what they do each year.

“The biggest misconception about sustainable food in schools is that people think you have to change everything at once,” Shaw said. “Starting Meatless Monday will raise food awareness and reduce food costs for the year. Another change could be using local seasonal vegetables or seeking sustainable vendors over time. It's a matter of looking at what you already do and figuring out the small changes that can make a difference.”

Sessions will focus on pre-school aged children up through grade 12. Diefenbacher said that while the lessons will change as the children move throughout school, even very young children can learn about sustainability.

“We have to start early. Preschoolers can learn to understand the concepts that become the building blocks of the sustainability mindset,” she said “Each day we have an opportunity to make smart, sustainable choices. It's time to move past the basic lessons and advance to the next phase and help students understand the impact of their decisions on the world around them.”

Other sessions throughout the three-day institute include:
  • How to talk to students about climate change
  • Developing a sustainability curriculum
  • Conducting a schoolyard “bioblitz”
  • The benefits of rainscaping
“Throughout the sessions we will have small group discussions and the event will wrap-up with hands-on activities where participants can learn how to conduct sustainable building audits, use solar cookers or learn about water contamination,” said Diefenbacher. “Additionally we have a number of local businesses participating in a sustainable resource fair.”

The Sustainability Institute costs $150 and includes sustainable breakfasts and lunches. Graduate credit is also available.
For more information or to register online, visit the event website.

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For more information about our MA in Education for Global Sustainability and other programs, visit the School of Education website.