KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A Kansas City, Kansas, nonprofit is investing in growing its own public school teachers.
The Learning Club hires high school interns from KCKPS for an after-school tutoring program and equips them to pursue a degree in education.
The hope is, they will come back to their school districts and and teach in the schools.
Javen Betts was one of the first teaching interns at The Learning Club five-years-ago.
He is now finishing his senior year at the University of Kansas and plans to come back to KCK and teach fourth grade.
Betts says there is value in investing in local talent and growing the community’s own teachers. By coming back, he is hoping to give back to his neighborhood that once poured into him.
“Growing your own is super vital, and it’s super vital for the longevity of, you know, the wealth of the community,” Betts said. “It’s something that you were a product of, and so it should be something you are proud of."
Betts believes the talent and resources to teach are in KCK — it is the passion that he wants to bring back.
“The program is amazing in, you know, creating educators that are passionate about what they do," he said. "So when you talk about, you know, getting them in and then seeing them all the way through the process, and then in the classroom making an impact, it’s really just the return of investment that the program gave to the community."
Raymond Taddeo, the internship director at The Learning Club, says many of his interns walk through his doors wanting to be a solution to the problems they saw growing up. He says this program gives them an avenue to do that.
“Students nowadays are so much more aware of social inequities and problems in society and I think a lot of kids want to be a part of solutions, but they don’t know how to be a part of solutions,” he said.
Taddeo believes the program is also a viable, long-term way to combat the on-going nationwide teacher shortage and retention.
“This is an idea of a solution thats less of a bandaid and is more of like a solution that can be longterm,” he said.
Amarian Holliday is one of the newest interns. She says she has been affected by the teacher shortage first-hand, and knowing she would be helping her community, is all she needs to know to answer the call.
“I’ve always noticed teachers leaving or having a long-term sub, and I think it’s really important that students have one teacher throughout the whole year,” Holliday said. “Just give to the people who helped me and like taught me and raised me.”
The Learning Club Teaching Internship runs alongside KCKPS’ regular school year. Applications for the 2023 season will open in May.
Interested students must submit an application complete with a teacher recommendation and essay. Preference goes to students wanting to pursue a career in education.