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UMKC program introduces high school students to the teaching profession

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Black teacher with student
Christopher Connelly
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NPR
As part of its Grow Your Own initiative the Institute of Urban Education is in Kansas City area high schools looking for future urban teachers.

The goal of the university's Institute for Urban Education is to recruit and support future educators, especially those of color.

The Institute for Urban Education (IUE) at the University of Missouri - Kansas City launched a Grow Your Own program to attract, develop and place teachers in Kansas City schools.

Since it’s inception, the program is proud to report a 100% job placement rate of IUE graduates in urban schools. Also, 51% of them are teachers of color, compared to only 18% of teachers nationwide and 5% of teachers in Missouri.

The program currently partners with eight area high schools to provide two courses allowing students to earn six college credit hours.

The UIE is also a direct link to the university's school of education offering a path to becoming a teacher and returning to the area's urban schools.

"So, if I know that I can come back to my community, give back and help students who look like me, who walked my same streets, it's powerful." says Sara Saunders, field instructor for the Institute for Urban Education at UMKC.

The social justice aspect of teaching is the focus of those courses provided to the participating high schools.

Brad Poos, associate director at the IUE explained. "We want students to see teaching as more than just standing up in front of a classroom. We want them to see that it's about equity, its about activism, its about community responsiveness, it's about improving your community."

According to Poos, urban schools have long been marginalized, underfunded and underappreciated making it harder for urban schools to recruit and retain teachers.

"What we're really charged to do is to produce exemplary teachers for our urban schools,' explains Poos adding, "and that's what we have done since 2005."

  • Sara Saunders, education field instructor, Institute for Urban Education
  • Brad Poos, associate director, Institute for Urban Education
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