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Feb. 23, 2015

MUST extends its reach to veterans

By Kevin Alquist

The College of Education and Human Services and the Master of Urban Secondary Teaching Program (MUST) at Cleveland State University have teamed up with the Veteran Student Success Center to expand the center’s accessibility to veterans.

While MUST has been a master’s degree program with the College of Education and Human Services for more than 15 years, this year is the first year the program is linked to the Veteran Success Center.

The MUST program offers classes in the psychology of education, specific education methods and teaching technology before providing the student with a year-long clinical program that prepares the student through a variety of professional in-class work experiences.

The MUST program will also be made available online starting in May. Currently, the first 17 hours of foundational courses of the program are only offered in the classroom, restricting the program to local students.

Gary McPherson, coordinator of MUST and veteran of the Marine Corps, said it is important to be in tune with the needs of veterans, so he teamed up with Bob Shields, coordinator of the Veteran Student Success Center and retiree of The U.S. Coast Guard.

“We know that veterans coming in to the teaching field have a high retention rate,” McPherson said. “If we know that’s a population that has had some success we should be proactive in reaching out to them. What’s different about how we are going about it is that we are building those relationships by reaching outside the college of education and working with the Veteran Success Center.”

With the college of education and the Veteran Student Success Center working together, McPherson said, veterans can have an easier time connecting to the MUST program, which he described as “paramount.”

Shields stressed that education is a good career for veterans that are used to serving because teaching is also a service.

“For veterans, [MUST is] providing an opportunity for them to have good, meaningful employment and continue service,” Shields said. “Teachers do provide service.”

“It’s about being inclusive,” McPherson said. “If we just have college of education people sitting around and we don’t have any voices from the veteran side we are going to have gaps.”

McPherson expects that the inclusion will result in higher enrollment rates in the MUST program.

In recent years, the MUST program has averaged 12-14 members. According to Diane Corrigan, associate clinical professor in the department of Curriculum and Foundations, the program is expected to expand to 20-25 members.

Both McPherson and Corrigan believe that the growth of the MUST program will positively impact urban schools in Cleveland and other urban areas.

“I believe with their commitment to social justice, along with the skills and enthusiasm and teaching strategy that they bring, will have an immediate influence on children and their achievements in these schools,” Corrigan said. “They bring an energy and a level of care and content knowledge and if they’re hired in urban schools that impact continues.”

Both Shields and Corrigan said they think the inclusion of veterans will add a wealth of experience for prospective teachers graduating from the MUST program.

“What [students] are getting with a vet is someone who has not been in education all of their adult life who has some real world experiences that may not translate in the classroom and yet it provides the experience of working with people in different situations that they can bring to bear as a classroom teacher,” Shields said.