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UMW Announces Sprint Degree Partnership With Great Falls College & Public Schools

Updated: Dec 1, 2023

The University of Montana Western was recently awarded nearly $400,000 dollars by the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education (OCHE) to implement a Sprint Degree in partnership with Great Falls College (GFC) and Great Falls Public Schools (GFPS).



The newly designed program will maintain all the courses currently required for a BS: Elementary Education but will compact the traditionally 4-year program into a 9-semester sequence, which includes summers. Students will be able to take their general education courses through GFC/UMW and will complete their teaching program through UMW.

The Sprint Degree cohort will be housed at Morningside Elementary in Great Falls, which will be the site for the new CORE School that GFPS will open in the fall of 2024. Through this innovative school, UMW students will be able to work as paraprofessionals at the school where they will also take their UMW classes, which will be taught by K-6 classroom teachers who will serve as UMW adjunct instructors. This unique model will allow UMW students to see connections between their coursework and real classrooms, as they gain valuable experience in the field.



Students in the program will spend their third and final year participating in the OPI Residency Project, which UMW has participated in for the last two years. This culminating experience will provide students with an immersive, full-year experience in a single classroom. It is the hope of the Sprint Degree program that students will be well prepared for their own classrooms after spending three years learning about and practicing their skills in elementary classrooms.

For more information about scholarship support and the Sprint Degree program, contact Dr. Laura Straus (laura.straus@umwestern.edu), and for information about the CORE School, contact Jackie Mainwaring (jackie_mainwaring@gfps.k12.mt.us). Information about Montana Western’s elementary education degree program can be found by visiting https://tinyurl.com/ycxbshdh.



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