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Checking in with KC Teacher Residency and its solution to teacher shortages

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Posted at 9:19 AM, Nov 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-16 10:19:33-05

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced last week it will spend $50 million on new recruitment programs over the next three years to address teacher shortages in the state.

A group in Kansas City, Missouri, has a kind of “grow-your-own teacher” approach called the Kansas City Teacher Residency.

The program mimics a medical residency with aspiring teachers sitting in on seminars to earn a master’s degree while also working under a mentor teacher in a school classroom. KCTR focuses on preparing teachers for areas of specific need: pre-k, STEM and special education.

“It’s not just learning about it, but it’s doing it that will make it last longer,” resident Jen Lazenby said of the classroom work with her mentor teacher, Beatrice Rogers.

Lazenby and Alyssa Williams are both working with Rogers at Operation Breakthrough where they will teach pre-k following the completion of their residencies.

“Patience is really a great virtue to have with these kids,” Williams gave an example of what she’s learned in the classroom.

Rogers sees a lot of potential for both residents. She described her first teaching job as “baptism by fire” and admires the KCTR approach.

“A classroom needs an effective teacher for kids to have effective learning,” Rogers pointed out. “We need to develop really strong and effective teachers in order to bring our youngest learners up to their full potential.”

Williams and Lazenby will achieve their full potential next year when they take over a classroom all by themselves.

A series of grants KCTR received this year will help it expand to offer the program to more residents and work with schools on the Kansas side of the metropolitan area.