$7.5 million grant helps Mizzou Academy redevelop training videos for childhood care providers and professionals

Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education grant will help make required trainings more engaging and inclusive.

Contact: Brian Consiglio, 573-882-9144

Kathryn Fishman-Weaver of Mizzou Academy laughs with children in the infant room at the MU Child Development Lab. Photos by Karl Bussen of Bussen Productions.

Each year, roughly 35,000 child care providers and educators across Missouri are required to take training courses to meet continuing education and license eligibility requirements with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).

While the current courses cover critical topics, such as safe sleep, transportation, fostering inclusivity, and emergency preparedness, the online materials are outdated, inaccessible with certain web browsers and the monotone voice of the narrator can make it difficult for learners to stay engaged.

Now, with the help of a $7.5 million grant from DESE, Mizzou Academy, a fully-accredited, online K-12 school system housed in the University of Missouri College of Education and Human Development, will redevelop the existing DESE training courses as well as create new online, on-demand video-based courses for preschool teachers, daycare staff, paraprofessionals, childcare administrators and after-school providers.

A child explores in her classroom at the MU Child Development Lab. Photos by Karl Bussen of Bussen Productions.

“Mizzou Academy is well-positioned to take on this project, as our goal is to expand access to education,” said Kathryn Fishman-Weaver, executive director of Mizzou Academy. “Our online, on-demand approach is key for reaching diverse groups of people who work at different times of the day, who have different responsibilities and different levels of access to technology at different times of the day.”

Mizzou Academy will collaborate with MU faculty in the Department of Human Development and Family Science to develop 30 online courses, which are expected to be completed by July 31, 2023.

Two students work with Kathryn Fishman-Weaver of Mizzou Academy on colors and shapes. Photos by Karl Bussen of Bussen Productions.

“Our updated, evidence-based best practices will make these videos a valuable learning resource, and our professionals in voice acting, theater and videography will make the content more engaging and accessible,” Fishman-Weaver said. “Anytime we can support the childhood care providers and educators who are caring for and teaching our youth, it is an investment in their future, and we are proud to be a part of it.”

In addition to updating the outdated existing videos, MU will be creating video-based courses for DESE on new topics, such as school readiness and supporting multilingual learners. Francisco Palermo, associate professor in Human Development and Family Science, is creating a video on fostering a more inclusive environment for children who don’t speak English as their first language.

Francisco Palermo, College of Education & Human Development
Francisco Palermo

“This topic is personal for me, as I was born in Puerto Rico and moved to the mainland as a child,” Palermo said. “Getting adjusted in school was hard, as teachers would criticize me for not paying attention when I asked questions. I was paying attention, the language barrier just made understanding the content more difficult. I want to be supportive toward those that may now be in a similar situation, as the number of Latino/a immigrants in the United States continues to rise.”

Note: Funding for the grant was provided by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.