Springfield Public Schools

Four of five finalists for SPS Teacher of the Year are Drury graduates

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., April 17, 2017 — Drury University’s commitment to outstanding teacher education will be evident as Springfield Public Schools prepares to name its 2017 Teacher of the Year at a banquet tonight. That’s because four of the five finalists for Teacher of the Year are Drury graduates.

Three of the finalists earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Drury, while a fourth earned a graduate degree. The four teachers are:

Betsy Cannella, an art teacher at Glendale High School. Cannella earned a B.Arch. in Architecture from Drury in 2006 and Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction in 2008.

Jenny Talburt, a fourth grade teacher at Pershing Elementary School. Talburt earned a B.A. in Elementary Education from Drury in 2001 and Master of Education in Special Reading in 2008.

Gretchen Teague, a communication arts teacher at Central High School. Teague earned a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Drury in 2006.

Kevin Zimmerman, an art teacher at Harrison Elementary School. Zimmerman earned a B.A. in Fine Arts and Secondary Education from Drury in 2007 and a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction in 2010.

_w3a9062-editTeague and Cannella remain connected to Drury, as they are currently involved with the longstanding annual summer camps hosted by Drury’s Center for Gifted Education. Talburt is an adjunct instructor at Drury.

“We are so incredibly proud of what these teachers have accomplished in the classroom this year, and throughout their careers,” says Laurie Edmondson, dean of Drury’s School of Education and Child Development. “It’s a testament to Drury to see the kind of impact they are making in the lives of the students. This is exactly why we do what we do each day.”

Vocal music teacher Daniel Gutierrez is the fifth finalist. The finalists were selected from a pool of 77 nominations, according to SPS, and the winner will be eligible to compete at the regional level. Nominated teachers submit an essay describing their philosophy of teaching, which a selection committee uses to choose candidates to participate in face-to-face interviews with the committee. To be eligible, a teacher must have worked for at least four years as a teacher at SPS.

The annual awards banquet is hosted by the Foundation for Springfield Public Schools.

For more information about undergraduate and graduate education programs at Drury, visit: www.drury.edu/education.

UPDATE: Congratulations to Daniel Gutierrez on taking home Teacher of the Year honors.


Drury hosts recognition ceremony for promising Missouri scholars Friday

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., May 19, 2016 — The Drury Center for Gifted Education, in partnership with the Duke University Talent Identification Program (TIP), will honor more than 400 of Missouri’s most promising young scholars at a recognition ceremony at 11 a.m., Friday, May 20 in the O’Reilly Family Event Center. Central High School student and former Duke TIP honoree Amanda Morrison will be the keynote speaker.

To qualify for recognition, seventh-grade honorees must take the ACT or SAT and score at a level equal to or better than 50 percent of the high school juniors and seniors who took the test. Duke TIP, a nonprofit organization, has conducted an annual search for academically talented youth in the state of Missouri as well as 15 other states since its founding in 1980.

Drury University has hosted the annual statewide recognition event since 1981. Representatives from Drury, Duke TIP and Springfield Public Schools’ gifted education program will be available for comment to the media before or after the ceremony.

Drury has been a national leader in providing education and enrichment programs for academically gifted students more than 30 years. The Drury Center for Gifted Education is the most complete center for gifted education in the state of Missouri, and is one of less than 20 complete gifted education centers in the United States. Each summer, more than 700 children from pre-K through high school attend Drury’s educational camps for gifted students. Visit Drury Gifted Education for more information.

The Center is part of Drury’s School of Education and Child Development, which is the longest continually accredited School of Education in the state of Missouri. Drury undergraduate and graduate programs in education have a decades-long record of adding value to the lives of children and youth by preparing highly effective teachers and leaders for work in schools throughout the Ozarks region and beyond.


Media Contact: Mary Potthoff, Director of the Center for Gifted Education – (417) 873-7386; (417) 885-8089 or mpotthof@drury.edu.

Drury hosts first International Culture Fair for local schools April 28

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Apr. 28, 2014 — Drury hosts an International Culture fair for local school students in the Findley Student Center from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. today.

About 400 students from Boyd, McGregor, Pipkin, and Central will be attending the fair.  Throughout the day, students will have the chance visit 11 booths representing 13 different countries. Drury volunteers will lead the students through the fair to learn more about each country’s culture and language.

At each booth, students will also participate in a traditional activity from the represented country. Activities may include learning a traditional dance, playing an instrument, or tasting authentic food from one of the highlighted cultures.  Students will also receive a passport booklet with questions relating to the country and receive a stamp in their passport after each visit.  They will also receive souvenirs related to the fair and their visit to Drury.

“The hope is that student will not only learn about what life is like around the world, but that they will also grow to understand and appreciate the incredible cultural diversity here in Springfield,” says Dr. Heidi Backes, assistant Professor of Spanish at Drury. “I am very excited to be able to offer this experience to local students, and my campus volunteers are equally thrilled to get to share their love international culture and travel.”


Drury Scholars program is in its sixth year of connecting to the community

In the spring of 2008, three Drury professors hatched an idea to try to build bridges between different racial and ethnic groups, support education and do it all on a shoestring budget. Just a few months later, 15 African-American, middle school-aged young men spent a week on the Drury campus learning about literature and chemistry, attended a Springfield Cardinals games and realized the potential for their futures. Summer Scholars was born.

Since that time, Scholars has expanded to serve more than 50 Springfield Public Schools students, includes girls and provides year-round programming.

“The Drury Scholars program is consummate with the vision of higher education and Drury’s vision. I never doubted that we’d be doing this forever,” said Dr. Peter Meidlinger, a Drury English Professor and a Scholars founder.

Drury Theatre Professor works with Drury Scholars in the summer of 2012

Now entering its sixth year, the Scholars curriculum for this summer, which begins today, focuses on a theme of “Are you ready?” As in, are you ready to apply to college and take the ACT? All of the students heading into their junior and senior years of high school will finish their week at Drury with a practice ACT.

“College readiness is more than intellectual and academic,” said Dr. Bruce Callen, another Scholars founder a physics professor at Drury. “There also needs to be a familiarity with the college environment and a comfort with finding and applying to college.”

Last year, Drury Scholars hired Francine Pratt to be the Program Coordinator. In the past, Drury professors and students had some year-round contact with the Scholars and that has increased with a focus on college readiness. During the last academic year, Pratt took some of the Scholars to visit colleges around the state and region, including: UMKC, St. Louis University and Southeast Missouri State.

Pratt also took students to Infinite Scholars in Kansas City and St. Louis, which is a clearinghouse of colleges where, in just a few hours, students can apply to and get accepted to dozens of college and universities. However, to go on the trip, the students had to meet several requirements, “Students had to build a resume, get three letters of recommendation, write a college essay, and obtain an unofficial copy of transcripts. They had to earn the right to go on the trips, but when they got in front of the college representatives, they were ready,” Pratt said.

This fall, three Scholars alumni will be enrolled at Drury, but pushing Drury or college has never been the goal. For the Scholars founders, the goal has been to make the students aware of their potential and opportunities.

“One of the guys from the original class was the first person in his family to graduate from high school,” Callen said. “All along, we just wanted to show these kids that there were people in the community who cared about their success and make them realize that they have partners in the community who are committed to having a healthy, sustainable and viable community where everyone has an opportunity to succeed.”


Story by Mark Miller, associate director of marketing and communications at Drury University.

Sixth class of Drury Scholars comes to campus on July 8

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., July 3, 2013 — In the summer of 2008, 15 African-American, middle school-aged young men from Springfield Public Schools came to Drury for a week of academic enrichment, field trips and physical education classes. Summer Scholars was born. Now entering its sixth summer, the Drury Scholars has since expanded to include females, provides year-round activities, has a dedicated program coordinator, and the curriculum is more focused on preparing the students for college.

“What we wanted was to increase the awareness and capability for the young people in the program. So, if college was the right choice they’d be in the right place to make that decision,” said Dr. Bruce Callen, one of the founders of Scholars. “We also wanted them to know that there were people in the community who cared about their success.”

More than 50 African-American young men and women will arrive on Drury’s campus on July 8 for a week of education and fun. The theme this year is “Are you ready?” As in, “Are you ready to take the ACT and apply for college?” All of the students entering their junior or senior years of high school will finish the week by taking a practice ACT test.

Drury Theatre Professor Bob Westenberg works with Scholars in 2012

During the school year, students in the Scholars program take part in a variety of activities from a book club to getting help from Drury faculty writing their college essays. Scholars Program Coordinator Francine Pratt has also taken several high school students in the program on field trips to college campuses around Missouri, including: UMKC, SEMO, Lindenwood University and St. Louis University. She also took students to Infinite Scholars in St. Louis and Kansas City, a one-day conference where students can apply to and get accepted to multiple colleges in just a few hours.

“All of our team learned the importance of business casual attire, proper etiquette, how to greet people and good interpersonal skills before we attended Infinite Scholars,” Pratt said. “It was powerful watching how well they took to that experience and what they got out of it. Seven of our seniors got accepted at multiple colleges from the Infinite Scholars experience.”

The focus for the summer session is on high school-aged students, but middle school students spent a day on-campus in May that mirrors what the older students will do during their residential experience.

The only cost to the Scholars is a $25 fee, which is waived for students who complete community service.

Media Contact: Francine Pratt, Drury Scholars Program Coordinator, Mobile: (916) 541-1675, Email: fpratt@drury.ed