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New grant helps Kansas City Teachers Residency expand

KC Teacher Residency.png
Posted at 5:18 AM, Aug 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-31 13:13:12-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — New grant funding will allow a Kansas City, Missouri-based program that trains teachers to expand its reach.

This year, SchoolSmartKC and the Sherman Family Foundation granted Kansas City Teacher Residency up to $2.5 million.

Kansas City Teacher Residency will use the money to bring more residents into the program (from roughly 45 this year to roughly 65 next year), collaborate with more schools and eventually expand into Kansas. It currently only operates in Missouri.

“Seeing our teachers in front of students and seeing the magic they’re bringing to students, being in that space, I call it the core of my joy and why I do this every day,” explained Charles King, Kansas City Teacher Residency’s founder and CEO,

He modeled the program after the medical doctor residency concept.

Over the course of a year, teaching residents get a mix of classroom work and shadow a mentor teacher in a school. All the while, residents earn a teaching certificate and master’s degree. The program gives each resident a $20,000 stipend during the year.

“It’s been amazing,” admitted Alyssa Williams, a current resident. “This is probably, actually the best time of my life so far coming to this program. It’s really relaxing, kind of intense, but it pushes you to your full potential.”

Williams credited her teachers growing up in Grandview, Missouri, for inspiring her to become a teacher.

Once she completes the residency, she will teach pre-K at Operation Breakthrough, a new partner school with Kansas City Teacher Residency this year thanks to the grant.

King said the residency focuses on creating teachers in areas of need, which include pre-K, special education and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

“One of the things we love about [residents from] Kansas City Teacher Residency is the fact they are going to be spending a year in the classroom with a master teacher. So they get a chance to really learn about the norms, the culture, and the developmental milestones we need for kids to be school-ready,” explained Mary Esselman, president and CEO of Operation Breakthrough. “Then that next year, they’ll be ready to take the reins themselves as a lead teacher in a classroom.”

Jen Lazenby will also work with pre-K students at Operation Breakthrough when she finishes the Kansas City Teacher Residency program.

Teaching will be her second career but was always her first choice. Now, Kansas City Teacher Residency is helping her turn a dream into reality.

“I’ve always wanted to be a teacher,” Lazenby said. “It feels comfortable, it doesn’t feel like work, it doesn’t feel like a job.”

The program has a track record of success. King said over the past five years, about 150 teachers have completed their residency, going on to affect 11,000 students on the Missouri side of the Kansas City metropolitan area.