School offers teachers a Master's education for less than $200 - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

School offers teachers a Master's education for less than $200

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Chippewa Falls (WQOW) - How would you like to earn your masters degree for less than $200?

This is no sales pitch for teachers at a Chippewa Falls school.

"It's always been something I've thought about, but with my family and the amount of time and the cost," says McDonell Area Catholic Schools teacher Shelly Retzlaff.

Perhaps the greatest of these setbacks is cost, but now it's only a $175 obstacle for teachers at McDonell Area Catholic Schools.

"For our school district, we're realizing that higher level thinking and that collaboration that we're getting from the Masters is very valuable," says Mary Huffcutt Vice President of Academic Affairs and Leadership Development

So the school sought funding from the Chippewa Falls community, like local businesses and school supporters, to pay more than $12,000 per teacher in the district to earn their master's degree.

"It's a pilot.  You know, this is new and we can't find anybody else in the country doing it.  There's things we're learning along the way, but they've been phenomenal," says Huffcutt.

"We're kind of learning as we go, so there's been some frustration, but it seems to all get ironed out as we move along.  So it's not been too bad," says Retzlaff.

In a partnership with Saint Mary's University in Winona professors come to Chippewa Falls to teach the classes to McDonell staff who sign up for the program.

"They sign the contract for five years and if they do that and stay with our system, they get it for free," says Huffcutt.

The mission is to have more than 75-percent of the staff hold their masters within five years and improve the education they offer students.

"What I'm doing and what the other teachers in our classes are doing, that's affecting our students in our system from pre-k all the way up through high school," says Retzlaff.

Once the degree is complete the teachers take on a coaching role for other staff continue the cycle of education in this Chippewa Falls school.

"Everything is purposefully driven.  They work as a team, collaboration, everything is applied at that moment for the school," says Huffcutt.

Eleven teachers completed the first year of the program last fall and six additional teachers have signed up to start the three year coursework to earn their master's.

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