Guest Opinion: Supporting the educational needs of tomorrow


by WSU College of Education Dean Tarrell Portman

The Winona Normal School was established in 1858 as the first state teacher-preparation institution west of the Mississippi — intended to educate the students of the new frontier of the American West. In 1917, we began offering classes in Rochester, and Winona State University is still here today, educating students for another new frontier — that of the 21st century classroom.

Later this spring we will break ground in Winona on the long-awaited Education Village, a two-year project that will create a spectrum of learning environments to prepare teacher candidates — from low-tech classrooms comparable to those in existing American schools to technology-enabled active-learning classrooms, STEM labs, maker spaces, and special-education classrooms.

Thanks to the generous support of the people of the state of Minnesota, and strong advocacy from our legislators and educational partners, we have the bricks and mortar of Education Village covered. Thanks to our 29-member Education Village Taskforce — made up of community stakeholders, WSU faculty, staff, and students — our new facilities are designed for optimum 21st century learning.

But there is so much more to know about WSU’s Education program, beyond the physical campuses that house our instructional facilities.

For starters, did you know WSU is as the leading elementary education program in the entire state of Minnesota — and ninth in the nation? Further, when WSU hosted a review team from the Minnesota Board of Teaching this fall, the team recommended full continuing accreditation of the College of Education professional education programs until 2025. Not only did our College of Education meet the 67 Minnesota standards for teacher education programs, the Board of Teaching specifically praised our Winona State Guarantee, a promise of continued support given to all teacher education graduates during their first years of teaching.

Our faculty are striving for one goal, and that is to shape future teachers into strong leaders for the schools and communities they will go on to serve. The dedication of our faculty, the quality of our teacher education programs, and our commitment to innovative transformations, as evidenced by our Archibald Bush Foundation Teacher Effectiveness Initiative (T.E.I.), all come together to create a corps of new teachers equipped to address the educational needs of tomorrow.

Education is truly our legacy at Winona State. It is our past, present and future, and we excel at what we do. Our students are shaping the future of education throughout our region, and our alumni are leading classrooms and schools across the globe. And with Education Village on the horizon, and our strong partnerships throughout the Rochester school district, we are well-poised to educate our students for the new frontier of the 21st century.


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