Landmark teaching education program celebrates 25th anniversary
Just over 25 years ago, the Des Moines Area Community College reached out to the University of Northern Iowa with a problem: Rural areas of Western Iowa were having trouble attracting quality teaching candidates.
The solution to this issue is still flourishing today, the 2+2 Elementary Education Program, now the longest-running partnership between a university and community college in the state. The program is celebrating its 25th anniversary with the largest student class in its history.
The 2+2 program offers students who cannot relocate to Cedar Falls the ability to take two years of classes at DMACC followed by two years of upper-level classes delivered by UNI through a combination of in-person, online and hybrid approaches.
The program, which has been available at DMACC’s Carroll, Ankeny and Boone campuses, will have graduated 307 students by May 2021. Many of these graduates have gone on to teach in rural districts that face an aging teacher population and social and financial challenges to attracting qualified teachers.
Plans for the program were outlined in early 1993 after DMACC approached UNI with the results of a survey showing a pending teacher shortage in rural schools of west central Iowa. In 1994, UNI received a three-year, $315,000 federal grant to develop a model 2+2 program.
The first courses from the UNI sequence were offered beginning in January of 1995. In the early years of the program, UNI received a budget line from the legislature to offset the costs, but as the program has thrived, it has been fully integrated into the budget of the university as a whole and currently operates on a self-supporting basis.
The success and duration of the program has contributed to the creation of an additional partnership with DMACC, UNI@DMACC, in which UNI staff are located at DMACC's urban campus to provide support for several online degree completion programs designed for adult learners: the Bachelor or Liberal Studies, Bachelor of Applied Studies (BAS) in Managing Business and Organizations, and BAS in Criminology.