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BLUE Program Encourages Drake Teaching Grads to Stay in Des Moines

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Saturday’s graduation ceremony at Drake University was also a monumental day for the Des Moines Public School District.

Nearly 70 Des Moines teachers were the first to graduate with a free Drake masters degree within the Building Leaders in Urban Education (BLUE) program.

Blue and gold cords made it easy to spot the teachers who graduated with the culturally responsive leadership and instruction degree. The curriculum took them through 11 classes designed by DMPS administrators and the Drake School of Education. It is designed to equip educators with more tools and specialized methods when teaching in a diverse urban school district and motivate them to continue teaching in Des Moines.

"The whole just teaching everybody the same way and just expecting the same things out of everybody when they have totally different backgrounds and totally different experiences is the wrong way to approach it," said Brandon Nattress, a BLUE program graduate. "You need to look at each individual, you need to see what they need, you need to teach the individual, and get everyone to the graduation day so they can be productive members of society and value education.”

The program is offered to rookie teachers and requires them to stay within the Des Moines Public School District for a minimum of eight years. Veteran teachers are eligible for the degree at a reduced tuition rate.