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Winona State University's Education Village aims to innovate department

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Winona, MN (WXOW) - -

Since 2012 Minnesota's Winona State University has been waiting to update their education facilities.

Thanks to the Minnesota Legislature's 2017 approval of $25 million in funding, the university's idea for an education village is now a reality.

Shannon Leahy is a junior in Winona's education department who found her passion while in high school.

"I wasn't sure if there was actually going to be a job placement, and being a kid that has to pay for their own education I had to find a job right after college," Leahy describes. 

After first attending the University of Wisconsin-Stout she knew it wasn't the place to land her dream job.

"I realized that it just wasn't the place for me and after all the thinking about everything I decided to come back to Winona," Leahy continues.

The Winona junior heard positive things about the university's education department, but Winona's connection to teachers runs deeper than their reputation.

"We were the first school west of the Mississippi and our purpose was to get teachers out into the rural areas and school houses to work on education," Dean of the College of Education at Winona State Tarrell Portman says.

With their history of teaching the project continues the Winona legacy.

"It will help us to do things together in the large group spaces by bringing in elementary classes for enrichment activities. So our teachers will be trained in the building where we have children," Portman elaborates.

Consisting of three remodeled buildings the education village will provide more of the hands-on teaching experiences the university values.

"So much that for admission into teacher education students have to provide evidence that they have spent a certain number of contact hours with children," Portman finishes. 

Experiences that help aspiring teachers like Leahy feel more comfortable entering their career.

"Having that actual experience of being a teacher I think will be a really great benefit to get teachers prepared before going out into the field and signing that contract," Leahy concludes.

Minor work on the project is underway with an official groundbreaking ceremony scheduled for April 28.

The project is scheduled for completion by February 2019.

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