Educate MagazinePage address: http://ed.mnsu.edu/educatemagazine/
News on Innovations, Effectivness, Collaborations, and Relevance from the College of Education at Minnesota State University, Mankato
SUMMER 2018 Volume 8
As we enjoy another Minnesota summer, we also enjoy the chance to expand learning opportunities for our students. With a focus on our vision, to inspire lifelong learning and professional engagement through racial consciousness, social justice, and inclusion within a global context, we are constantly exploring ways to engage students that prepare them for their future. The two articles we share demonstrate a commitment to keeping students at the center of what we do.
Alan Page presents Mymique's award
An Educator at Heart
Mymique Baxter goes beyond advising to inspiring students on and off campus.
Mymique Baxter’s official title in the College of Education is Student Relations Coordinator. What that means, in practice, though is that Baxter is a first point of contact for students considering starting their career in elementary, special or secondary education at Minnesota State University, Mankato. But her job isn’t done once students settle on the University.
"We have 21 orientation & registration sessions (14 new student and five transfer student) every summer where students come to campus, they get their overview of what it’s going to be like when they get here and they get their class schedules for fall," she says.
Baxter gives a presentation to parents and students and also meets individually with just the students to assist them with their fall class registration.
"When they get here if they have any issues, I am their advisor for the first few years; they come to my office to get any questions answered," she says. "Then after every spring break or midterm we set up appointments to meet with me to go over what classes they should have for the following semester."
It's a lot of contact hours with students, but it’s the relationships that Baxter likes most about her job.
"It’s fun to see them grow from freshman to graduate, how they mature and change and are so different," she says. "You see them grow up into that adult they're going to be."
Some of Baxter’s most cherished student relationships come from the Teachers of Tomorrow group that she supports. She attends the group meetings—primarily made up of minority students—weekly for the entire year and is able to form bonds and act as a mentor.
Mymique's Partner of the Year award
Baxter earned her bachelor's degree from Tuskegee University, and her first master's degree in environmental science from Minnesota State Mankato. Before moving into education, she worked as a hydrologist for the Department of Natural Resources. It wasn't a perfect fit, "but the one thing I did like about that job was working with the kids," she says. "So I decided to go back to school to get my teaching license in science."
She returned to Minnesota State and completed a second master’s degree in teaching and went on to earn a doctorate of education—paving the way for a successful career within the College of Education.
Whether on campus or in the community, her commitment to a strong start for students is at the center of what she does. She’s particularly focused on creating opportunities for disadvantaged and low-income students.
"I'm on the board of directors for the YMCA, and I do that because I like to make sure they remember the little person or the person that may need financial assistance," she says.
Baxter is also on the operations team for a new Boys and Girls club opening in Mankato, and was recently awarded the Page Education Foundation’s Community Partner of the Year for 2018 for her work with recipients of Alan Page scholarships on Minnesota State University Mankato’s campus. She also recently earned her principal licensure and has plans to transition into K-12 administration.
"I am hoping to inspire young children, especially young children of color that they can be leaders in whatever they want to be," she says.
New Program Builds Bridge Between Norway and Mankato
A unique Norwegian-American exchange program allows students to teach and learn across cultures.
University of Southern Norway (USN)
During the great migration—roughly 1820 to 1920—nearly 1 million Norwegians left their homeland for a new life in America. This spring, thanks to a grant from the Norwegian Department of Education, students from Minnesota State University, Mankato will have a unique opportunity to learn about Norwegian-American migration from both sides of the ocean.
The initiative began in 2017 when a delegation from the University of Southern Norway (USN) traveled to Mankato and met with associate professor and social studies director, Kyle Ward. The delegation was impressed with Minnesota State Mankato, and given the strong historic and cultural ties between Norway and the Midwestern United States, was interested in pursuing a cross-cultural teaching experience.
Ward teamed up with USN associate professor history, Jens Hyvik, to apply for a grant to teach a joint history class exploring immigration factors from Norway to the United States.
"What will happen is the first eight weeks of that class, Jens will be teaching it through Skype on his end," says Ward. "The second eight weeks I’ll be teaching it from my end. So he’s going to teach the push factors, what pushed people out of Norway, and I’m going to teach the pull factors, what brought them here."
The class will culminate with a cross-cultural exchange. USN students will travel to Mankato in March and spend a week researching alongside their U.S. classmates; and in May, Minnesota State Mankato students will visit Norway.
A Chance to Teach Abroad
Ward expects this new class to fill up quickly, and is looking forward to its unique structure and the depth of learning opportunities it will provide. But, during the process of writing the grant, Ward thought, "why not go deeper?"
"The original plan was just the co-taught class," he says. "I made a suggestion and said, 'Could we get out into the schools and see how they talk about immigration?'"
That question led to a second initiative—added on to the initial grant—a student teaching exchange program in which three social studies teaching students will spend five weeks in a Norwegian high school.
Ward and Elizabeth Finsness, associate professor and director of field and international experiences, worked from the ground up to establish the brand new initiative.
"When [Ward] approached me, I looked at it as a pilot [program]" says Finsness. "He had three students who were interested, so I worked with them to complete the application and found scholarships available that are helping support their trip."
Though Finsness hasn't sent students to Norway in the past, she notes, USN has been eager to make the project work on their end, helping students find an apartment and making connections within the Norwegian high school where Minnesota State Mankato students will teach. They’ve even gone as far as fast-tracking curriculum changes to accommodate English-speaking teachers.
"The high school that we’re sending our students to is literally changing their entire curriculum so that it will be all in English now," says Ward. "They were going do it anyhow down the road, but when they got this opportunity, they said, 'Let’s bring the Americans and we'll just do it all in English.'"
Ward will accompany students to Norway in August to kick off their five-week stay. Finsness plans travel to Norway in September in hopes of expanding the pilot program to include additional content areas, elementary education and special education into an ongoing relationship.
Next spring, Mankato will welcome one or two USN students to student teach at Mankato West, and will also send two to three social studies student for a student teaching experience.
Fall 2017 Cost Rica student cohort
The Power of One
Charlotte Evans, '71 Elementary Education Major from Minnesota State University, Mankato took a memorable international trip with classmates for college credit and loved the experience. This past year Char and husband Duane DeLonais created a named scholarship to help support the next generation of teachers also have an international travel experience. Char’s scholarship will be utilized this winter as we send our first cohort of Education students to Norway for their International field experience. Thank you, Char, for helping another student experience growth, diversity and culture during their time at Minnesota State University, Mankato.
To make a gift to the College of Education, contact Kristen Dulas at firstname.lastname@example.org or 507-317-1381.