Archived Story

Earn a teaching degree without leaving Austin

Published 9:42am Friday, December 6, 2013

By Sheila Berger

Sumner Elementary School Principal

Recently, Riverland Community College hosted an open house for a new program located here in Austin. Austin Public Schools, Riverland Community College, and Winona State University are collaborating to offer a degree in elementary education without leaving the city limits.

For the past 12 months, the three educational groups have been meeting to create a four-year degree program at the Riverland campus. Students enrolled would proceed through an Associate of Arts degree from Riverland aimed specifically at meeting requirements for entrance into Winona State University’s College of Education. After the first two years of study, students would then complete their final two years of the degree through Winona State University, with classes being held at Sumner Elementary School.

Beyond the obvious advantage of staying local for all four years of college, the program also offers students early experiences in a school setting. Students would begin practicums during their Riverland experience, which allows students to “test” out working with children. This experience gives students hands-on practice with elementary-aged students. With the rising costs of higher education, it is also important that college students assess early on whether a degree in education is the right fit for them.

A similar program is currently meeting with great success in Rochester.  Rochester Community and Technical College is partnering with Winona State University and Riverside Elementary School. A couple of Rochester-based students were on hand for the recent open house. The students expressed their gratitude for the early experiences as one of the advantages of the program. The college students worked within Riverside Elementary frequently throughout the semesters, citing this experience as one that gave them an advantage over other college programs.

The program is currently accepting applications at Riverland College.  The program is aiming for a group of 25 college students. Excitement was evident at the open house, which attracted a variety of prospective students. If you are interested in learning more about the program, you may contact Riveland College at 507-433-0600 or

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