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Olathe Public Schools celebrate teacher appreciation week by offering high schoolers jobs

Olathe Future Educators Academy
Posted at 6:38 AM, May 09, 2024

OLATHE, Kan. — It’s teacher appreciation week, and the Olathe Public School District is highlighting their teachers, and the students they’re teaching how to do the job in one of the district’s career-focused academies.

Teachers are in high demand all over, so to keep their future educators in the district they grew up in, they’re offering jobs to high school seniors.

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“When I was little, I would always make my sisters play school. Like just for fun. I was the teacher, and they were the students,” said Jaia Storme, Future Educators Academy senior.

Jaia Storme is a senior and a teacher in the making. One who was just offered her dream job.

“They told me that they were offering me the contract, I was like ‘oh my gosh, I got it,’ I was so relieved,” said Storme.

Shelley Staples leads the Future Educators Academy.

“We are a four year preparation program for teachers,” said Staples, Future Educators Academy facilitator. “Job shadowing and seeing what it's like actually in the trenches of being a teacher.”

The students shadow at all types of schools. Senior Catelyn Pedigo found her passion in one she hardly knew existed.

“I kind of got to go somewhere that I know a lot of people don't actually know about. Working with individuals that have disabilities,” said Catelyn Pedigo, Future Educators Academy senior.

Jaia Storme picked one close to home.

“I picked my old elementary school, and I got to go back to the teacher that made me want to be a teacher,” said Storme.

Anna Persaud had a similar story.

“My third grade teacher because I had really been struggling with math. She always found a new way... math turned into something more fun. I would like to be that for someone someday,” said Persaud, Future Educators Academy senior.

Through the Future Educators Academy, all of these students signed job promises for after they graduate college.

“Students give four years of their lives to me in our program, and so how do we validate their experiences and show like, hey, we think you are going to be a candidate and you're going to be a wonderful teacher,” said Staples.

They say you should never meet your heroes.

“They don't just teach like, curriculum and stuff they teach like how to be a good person,” said Storme.

But they don’t say anything about working with them.

“I have a lot of mentors that I look up to, teachers in the district. I think it'd be really cool to be able to come back and work with them,” said Pedigo.

“They're the people I want to have as my co-workers,” said Staples. “That's what teacher appreciation week is about, recognizing that this teacher is doing the best they can to help all of these students.”

They call the program “Hire Our Own.” This year they have college student teachers in Olathe classrooms that were part of the program a few years ago.

Staples says she looks forward to having them back as full-time teachers, filling much needed openings soon.