The University of Denver (DU) Morgridge College of Education (MCE) Center for Rural School Health & Education (CRSHE) will be expanding its work in rural communities with the addition of a new grant-funded initiative through the Colorado Department of Education’s (CDE) Plan into Action Grants. CRSHE’s goal with this initiative is to create a robust rural school mental health workforce in order to meet the mental health needs of rural students and provide classroom teachers with the support they need by increasing the number of mental health professionals placed in rural schools. MCE will work with state and community partners in southeast Colorado to build and sustain a rural school mental health workforce that can alleviate some of the pressures classroom teachers face in trying to meet those students’ emotional needs. The University anticipates that teacher retention rates will increase as a result of teachers feeling more supported in the classroom.

CRSHE director, Dr. Elaine Belansky, has been working in rural schools in Colorado for 19 years. While new to DU, Belansky is not new to challenges faced by rural communities.

“I have been working with rural school districts since 1999 and what’s striking to me is that in the past few years, every rural school district our team works with has named student mental health as a top concern,” Belansky said. “We don’t have enough school mental health professionals to meet the needs of rural students and classroom teachers are under a lot of pressure to teach content and meet the mental health needs of their kids. This grant gives us an opportunity to address these challenges.”

The $123,950 grant will allow Belansky and her team to partner with the Colorado Rural Education Collaborative and two Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) to create strategies aimed at increasing the school mental health workforce across underserved areas of the state. The grant consists of three components:

  • Conduct an immersion in Southeast Colorado for school mental health graduate students
  • Develop a statewide Professional Learning Community for school mental health professionals via ECHO DU
  • Create a hiring forecast that includes cost-effective, innovative strategies to meet rural school mental health workforce demands

The long-term goals and impact of the grant are to see an increase in the rural school mental health workforce, increased teacher retention rates, and increased mental health of rural students. The 12 month grant period begins fall 2018.

Dr. Doug Clements, Director of Marsico Institute for Early Learning at the Morgridge College of Education, University of Denver, has been appointed as one of 18 members of a new advisory panel created to encourage U.S. scientific and technological innovations in education, as authorized by the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act. Clements was chosen after extensive interviews and consideration of 500 other candidates by The National Science Foundation (NSF), in consultation with the Department of Education, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The Morgridge College of Education (MCE) Curriculum and Instruction program with a specialization in Gifted Education has received approval from the Colorado Department of Education to offer coursework leading to Endorsement in the areas of Gifted Education Core, Gifted Education Specialist, and Gifted Education Director. All three endorsements were approved in the State Board meeting on June 13, 2018 and will take effect for the 2018-2019 academic year.

”This approval provides a platform for [MCE] to serve educators dedicated to improving the lives of gifted students,” said Dr. Norma Hafenstein, Daniel L. Ritchie Endowed Chair in Gifted Education. “Whether as a teacher serving gifted students in his or her classroom or a district level leader developing and implementing programs, our graduate students will be provided exemplary training to impact the field.”

The University of Denver has been a leader in education of the gifted for over four decades. Teacher and administrator training, research, professional development and direct service to children have provided both depth and breadth of community impact. The need for trained educators continues to expand as too often children go unrecognized and are frequently underserved. The three endorsement programs provide multiple levels of training and opportunities resulting in impact on schools, children and families.

  • Gifted Education Core can be achieved through the MCE’s Teaching and Learning Sciences Teacher Education Program (TEP) and can also be met through a certificate program.
  • Gifted Education Specialist standards may be achieved via two different pathways; students complete a Masters level degree as part of TEP with a cognate in Gifted Education and then take additional coursework to address the specialist level standards; or, students meet the Specialist level standards through a Masters level degree separate from TEP.
  • Gifted Education Director standards are incorporated into the Education Doctorate (EdD). The Director of Gifted Education training is a combination of Gifted Education, Initial Administrator preparation, Curriculum and Instruction training, and Research Methods.

The next available term for the Gifted Education cohort is Summer 2019; applications for the 2019 term are open now.

The Master of Library and Information Science program at the University of Denver Morgridge College of Education has been granted continued accreditation status by the American Library Association (ALA). The decision to grant continued accreditation to the program was based on the “totality of the accomplishment and the environment for learning.”

The Master of Library Information Science is a both theory and practice-based curriculum, focusing on 21st century informational science and data management, and developing the skills needed to evaluate, manage, and adapt to technological change. Graduates of the program have chosen various areas for their fieldwork, including:

  • Archiving at the National Baseball Hall of Fame
  • Archiving interstate projects for the Colorado Department of Transportation
  • Digitization project in the British Library
  • Digitization projects at the Denver Public Library
  • Oral history digitization project at the Jeffco Public Library
  • Creating a digital library about sensory learning
  • Developing and launching a usability study for academic libraries
  • Rebuilding the digital repository of a medical library

The American Library Association (ALA) is the oldest and largest library association in the world. Founded on October 6, 1876 during the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, the mission of ALA is “to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.”


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