LEE SUMMITT, Mo. — Wednesday morning was a big day for Center School District and Blue Springs R-IV School Districts who welcomed students back to the classroom.
In Blue Springs, students at Chapel Lakes Elementary will be greeted with teachers who form part of the district's Grow Your Own Teachers program, giving future educators financial assistance to get their education degree and work for Blue Springs. One of the requirements of the program is applicants must have graduated from the district.
Christina Durham will be teaching first grade at Chapel lakes and is one of four teachers who are part of the program. Durham received $20,000 in the form of a forgivable loan to get her education. She says as a Blue Springs graduate, she is happy to be back at the district and will be teaching along with her mentor.
“I think it definitely gives me a bigger appreciation for the teachers that I had growing up and just realizing the importance of who your teacher is,” Durham said. “I think it also gives me a different lens just because now I can learn different tools and tricks.”
Next year the school district will welcome three additional teachers to the program.
“I am a graduate myself of Blue Springs School District. I attended K-12, went to the University of Missouri but I made my way right back here and was a teacher,” said Chapel Lakes Elementary Principal, Liz White, “I think it's somewhere where you want to come home, you want to come and work for the place where you grew up.”
Four new classrooms were added to the school and will be in use for the first time this academic year. The classrooms are part of a No Tax Rate increase bond that was passed last August.
White says the addition of the classrooms will help keep student to teacher ratio down and help with the influx of students set to come. White and her staff will be welcoming 610 students this year, the biggest student body the school has seen, and are fully staffed.
“We've hired thanks to our Board of Education an additional counselor, so we have two counselors on staff, we’ve hired additional Special Education teachers and we've kept our class our student ratios pretty low, so we can really provide that individualized support for kids”
At Chapel Lakes, student to teacher ratio averages under 25 students between third to fifth grade and then kindergarten through second grade is under 22 students.