Project Makes Education Majors “Street Smart”


ST. LOUIS — The term “street smart” has taken on a whole new meaning for sophomores in Maryville University’s School of Education. As part of their School and Society class, the students completed an in-depth project in which they researched and became familiar with an entire street in St. Louis. They worked on the project throughout the entire semester. They will present their findings to their peers and faculty from 8-10 a.m., on Tuesday, Dec 11,, in Room 2308 of Reid Hall.

The Street Project has been a part of Maryville’s undergraduate education program for several years. According to Cathy Bear, Ed.D., assistant professor of educational leadership, the program asks the essential question, “What does it mean to be a morally responsible teacher in a diverse and democratic society within a global community?” The purpose of the project is to help these future teachers gain a better understanding of the communities in which their prospective students live, and get a stronger grasp on the issues their students may be facing, Bear said.

“These projects allow students to get a good sense of the cultural and educational opportunities along the street and how they relate to one another,” said Sam Hausfather, Ph.D., dean of Maryville’s School of Education. Students are divided into groups and assigned a major street that runs from the suburbs into the city of St. Louis. These streets include Manchester Road, Big Bend Boulevard, Olive Boulevard and Clayton Road. Throughout the semester, students study the street and learn information on its history, culture and schools. This gives them a chance to observe the differences between areas of a street and the impact these differences have on the educational system.

The project requires the students to take a minimum of three drives along the street to become familiar with the different communities and neighborhoods, said Hausfather. In the first drive, students are asked to simply study the street from their car. The second and third drives are more in-depth. Students must learn what schools are along their street and research the financial and historical information of each school. Other assignment criteria include attending at least one community or cultural event along the street and completing several journal entries to chronicle their findings.

Hillary Linnertz, a junior education major and president of Maryville’s Education Club, completed the project last year. Growing up in St. Louis, Linnertz was eager to explore an area with which she was unfamiliar. Along with the seven other students in her group, Linnertz was assigned to Clayton Road, which runs all the way from Skinker to Clarkson. “I didn’t realize how important this project was until the beginning of my junior year,” said Linnertz.

Once she found out where her practicum placement was, Linnertz said she was eager to do her own mini-street project to get an understanding of the area in which her students live. “I wanted to find out what their homes were like and what kind of entertainment surrounded them,” she said. Coincidentally, Linnertz was placed in a school district off Clayton Road but still took the opportunity to make the drive again.

Maryville University is a private institution offering approximately 50 undergraduate, seven master’s and two doctoral degree programs to 3,422 students. Ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of America’s Best Colleges, Maryville University prepares its students for successful and meaningful careers. Among Maryville’s most recent graduates, 94 percent are employed or attending graduate school. Approximately 15,000 alumni work and live in the St. Louis region.