NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. – As schools in the Kansas City area continue to look for ways to fill open teaching positions, a local school district said it has found a creative way to increase its teacher pool.
The North Kansas City School District has been cultivating the Grow Your Own program for about five years.
Now, with a shortage of teachers across the country, it’s paying off. They hired their first teachers out of the program.
The district said the program is designed to attract prospective teachers, and partnerships with local colleges and universities allow students to graduate with limited debt.
Samara McKellar is one of the first teachers hired through the North Kansas City program. She is currently at Ravenwood Elementary teaching third grade.
“It’s like a dream,” McKellar said.
Ever since high school, McKellar knew he wanted to teach. Grow Your Own helped make that a reality through free tutoring and lessons.
“The program has given me a lot of guidance and a lot of support and that has meant a lot to me,” McKellar said, “because those are the same things I felt when I was a student in the NKC school district.”
Students like McKellar, who earned the Missouri A+ Scholarship, receive free tuition at several local colleges and universities.
“So I’m very, very grateful that I was able to get those 60 credit hours for free,” McKellar said.
“This allows students to definitely graduate with less debt,” said Chris McKann, executive director of human resources for the North Kansas City School District.
He said right now they still have 15-20 teaching positions open, but creative programs like this make a difference.
“This is helping,” McKann said. “So it’s another program that we need to make sure we have another high-quality workforce.”
He said it’s a creative approach to growing one’s teacher pool.
Tutoring and opportunities to take lessons begin as early as the second year of high school. Upon graduation, the participant teaches for at least three years in the district.
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