By Mallory Ragon of the Tribune
President Barack Obama spoke last Wednesday at the University of Central Missouri (UCM) campus. He visited Warrensburg after kicking off a series of speeches focused on the middle class at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois.
President Obama’s speech focused on the importance of the middle class and the American dream, and his intention to ensure that all Americans are given the chance to achieve both.
His visit was especially meaningful to many in the Lee’s Summit community for his commendation of the Missouri Innovation Campus (MIC), a collaborative effort between the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District, UCM, Metropolitan Community College (MCC) and a number of local businesses, including Black & Veatch, Burns & McDonnell, Cerner, DST, Grundfos, Honeywell, KCP&L, the City of Lee’s Summit, and Saint Luke’s Health Systems.
MIC is quickly gaining national recognition, including the recent visit from the president, for its innovative approach to providing students with real-world experience and higher education—before they even have a high school diploma. Students in the program earn their associate’s degree as they graduate from high school, and then go on to earn their bachelor’s degree in just two years at UCM.
The 17 students currently enrolled at MIC were in attendance to hear the president’s speech and shake his hand. Brian Green, a Lee’s Summit North senior enrolled at Summit Technology Academy, introduced President Obama to the approximately 1,500 people waiting excitedly in UCM’s gymnasium.
In addition to promoting preschool for all kids at the age of 4, making sure every desk in America has access to the internet, and the importance of focusing on STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields, President Obama said he’s looking to find the ideas we need for an aggressive strategy to improve education.
He touted the way MIC is helping students: "To equip students with better skills, to graduate faster and with less debt and with the certainty of a good job at the other end."
The attention that the program is getting is appreciated by Senator Will Kraus, a resident of Lee’s Summit who sponsored the bill that created MIC.
"The president and I disagree on many, many things—this is not one of them," he said before the speech. "This is a paradigm shift on how we educate our children."