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Harris-Stowe State University

Harris-Stowe State University’s legacy is developing  teachers capable of handling the ever changing landscape of education.  Founded by the St. Louis Public School District in 1857, Harris-Stowe State University was the first teacher education institution west of the Mississippi River and twelfth in the United States. Thus, the school can proudly claim to have been a pioneer in the legion of establishments purposed for producing teachers.

Harris Teachers College (trained white educators) and Stowe Teachers College (trained black educators) merged to form Harris-Stowe State University in 1954 in response to the historic Brown v. Board of Education decision, nationally outlawing racial segregation in public education. The school's namesakes are famed educator and Superintendent William Torrey Harris, and renowned slave abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe.  

Central to the school's mission of producing caring and well-informed teachers is the philosophy that a holistic approach is necessary to properly educate a child. This includes being well-versed in ones’ curriculum and learning about the neighborhood in which a student lives; become informed on existing societal threats and try to create a safe environment for the child. College of Education Dean, Dr. Leila Vickers at Harris-Stowe State University points out, “That [school] may be that child’s safest place six hours out of a day”. 

Dean Vickers contends: anyone who desires to make a difference should study to become a teacher. She asserts, “ If you’re inspired to want to make a difference in your community, in the city, in the urban area, I am convinced you might want to teach. I believe building a really good educational structure where you have teachers who are committed to making a difference in the lives of children is what matters.  A successful teacher is the best model a youngster can have.”

Harris-Stowe’s rigorous program ensures that aspiring teachers are ready to take on these challenges. Students can earn a degree in one of four areas: Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, Middle School Education, and Secondary Education. Upon completion, students are required to undergo four assessments analyzing one’s general education, content knowledge, professional development, and performance, ensuring that students display well-rounded competence before they are certified.  

As the University approaches its 160 th  anniversary in 2017, the School of Education continues to set the standard in the St. Louis area and beyond.  Harris-Stowe’s commitment to excellence is evidenced by the accomplishments of its students. 

In the summer of 2016, three graduates of Harris-Stowe’s education program assumed regional leadership positions. Dr. Sharonica Hardin, who received her undergraduate degree in elementary and special education from Harris-Stowe, is the Superintendent for the University City School District. Dr. Art McCoy begins as Superintendent of the Ferguson School District, and Dr. Sandra Wiley, cum laude of her graduating class in 2000, will serve as assistant superintendent of Human Resources in the Webster Groves District. 

Additionally, Charlene Lofton Jones, Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Assistant Professor of Political Science at Harris-Stowe, received the Lifetime Achiever Award presented at the St. Louis American Foundation’s 29th annual Salute to Excellence in Education Scholarship and Awards Gala on October 1, 2016.

For more than a century and a half, Harris-Stowe State University has remained committed to an important mission of developing teachers that not only care about their students, but also understand them and the obstacles these students may face academically and personally. 

As an institution, Harris-Stowe State University will strive to remain on the forefront of the educational field, maintaining the standards that have fostered its excellent reputation, while staying abreast of new trends and philosophies. Harris-Stowe State University and its accomplished faculty look forward to serving new educators and the children they will teach for years to come, as they bravely face the challenges of an ever-changing world.

Harris-Stowe State University is one of the fastest growing universities in the state of Missouri. It is located in midtown St. Louis. The historically black college welcomed its largest freshman class to date in the fall of 2016. Harris-Stowe represents over 1,400 students from 37 states and 10 countries. Currently, Harris-Stowe offers 31 majors and certificates.

St. Louis, MO