The University of St. Thomas School of Education will host an open house from 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, at Opus Hall, the school’s year-old home at 30 S. 10th St. (at LaSalle Avenue) in downtown Minneapolis.

The event kicks off a yearlong celebration of the 50th anniversary of the school’s graduate programs in education.

Community members are invited for an evening of music, tours, refreshments, fun and prizes, including a drawing for free tuition for a graduate or undergraduate course offered by the School of Education. The event is free and open to all – alumni, students, prospective students and community members.

They will celebrate the school’s pioneering role in offering innovative graduate training for professionals in education and human development. In 1950, St. Thomas became the first independent college or university in Minnesota to offer a master’s degree for K-12 educators. St. Thomas was acting on a growing public awareness that the people charged with educating Minnesota’s youth needed to be better trained.

Then, as now, educators were faced with new challenges in their classrooms and communities that required innovative, sophisticated approaches to teaching and learning. St. Thomas’ unique contribution was to apply its tradition of values-based, liberal arts learning to these challenges in flexible and innovative ways.

“The School of Education has always listened to the professional community to hear their needs, or even anticipated their needs,” said Dr. Miriam Williams, interim dean of the School of Education.

“But more important, we’ve brought the values, talents and academic excellence of a 115-year-old Catholic, liberal arts university to bear on these needs. The end result is thousands of thoughtful, committed alumni – well-prepared professionals who are bringing innovative approaches to learning and human development.”

Over the past five decades the School of Education has developed a broad menu of graduate programs for people working to improve human development in public and Catholic K-12 schools, businesses, colleges and universities, public agencies, nonprofit organizations and churches.

The school now offers a dozen master’s and three doctoral degrees, continuing-education courses and eight graduate certificate programs. Its programs also help students meet state of Minnesota requirements for licensure as K-12 teachers, special educators and school administrators.

The school offered evening and weekend classes for working adults at a time when universities expected graduate students to commit to a full-time, daytime course of study. St. Thomas also developed pioneering programs to reach out to educators in rural and innercity schools; it was the state’s first college or university to offer graduate education programs at K-12 schools and other off-campus locations.

The School of Education now serves approximately 1,500 students who attend classes at Opus Hall as well as at off-campus locations in the Upper Midwest and the Bahamas.

“We’re proud of our legacy and we’re excited to reconnect with all members of our community – alumni, staff and the community at large – to celebrate,” said Dr. Williams.

For more information on the open house, including information on validated parking, contact Julie Seykora at (651) 962-4428 or jmseykora@stthomas.edu. Information is also posted on the Web at www.stthomas.edu/education.