Mar. 27—Good things are underway in education in Joplin.
Site work has begun, hiring and curriculum development are well underway, and initial accreditation is in place for KCU's new College of Dental Medicine in Joplin. The groundbreaking for the building is expected this summer.
That is good news given that the coronavirus pandemic has delayed the school for a year.
The College of Dental Medicine is being built alongside the College of Osteopathic Medicine on the Joplin campus of Kansas City University. The dental college was to welcome students in fall 2022, but administrators now are looking to a fall 2023 opening.
The counties in our area are assessed as having shortages of dental health care providers. Officials with the school say the college will partner with area dentists and community health centers to ease the shortage and better serve the needs of the region.
"I see us working together, and together we'll recruit the next generation of dental professionals for the Joplin area," Dr. Linda Niessen, dean of the college, said.
Additionally, Carthage's McCune-Brooks Regional Hospital Trust will help the college to achieve those goals. The trustees recently approved a proposal to give the school $375,000 over five years, an increase from the school's request of $50,000 a year to $75,000 a year.
In Genesis, the first job given to humanity was to tend a garden. Now students in Joplin schools can do the same.
Soaring Heights Elementary School on East 20th Street in Duquesne recently became the third Joplin school to put in a garden for food and learning.
Michael Wischmeyer, a Joplin architect and founder of the Joplin School Garden Cooperative, and a number of volunteers gathered recently to build the garden beds for the school.
"The kids get to see that vegetables come from the land," Wischmeyer said. "They get to touch the dirt and learn about healthy eating opportunities. They can come out at recess and eat a tomato off the vine, pick it and eat it right there."
Students can learn a lot from gardening: They can experience the nature of nurturing and the nurturing of nature. They can practice patience and persistence. They can learn to recognize the crop in the seed and the value of watering, weeding and waiting.
To put it less poetically, students get to see where their food comes from (hint: it's not just the grocery store), and that work produces a tangible — in this case, edible — reward.
"Teachers are always looking for better ways to teach kids the standards they need to teach," Teresa Adams, principal at Soaring Heights, said. "And we know from research, when a kid can do something hands-on, when they can put their hands on it and learn it, they learn it much better."