Local student at Kansas Future Teacher Academy

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A student from Smoky Valley High School is among 60 high school students who are spending a week learning to become an educator at Kansas Future Teacher Academy.

According to the Kansas Department of Education, as thousands of Kansas students begin their summer vacation with swimming, summer camps and family vacations, 60 high school students from across the state are spending this week at Emporia State University to find out if they want to join the next generation of educators.

It’s the 32n/a year for the Kansas Future Teacher Academy (KFTA), said Todd Roberts, director of KFTA, and it is one of the largest groups of students, if not the largest group, the program has had.

“The purpose of the academy is to expose Kansas high school students to the benefits of the teaching profession and what the future of education will look like,” Roberts said. “Obviously there is a huge shortage of teachers right now. We want to inspire the next generation of educators.

All 60 students, representing 40 different high schools in Kansas, had to apply for the program. Students must be freshmen, sophomores, or juniors to attend and are accepted into KFTA based on their academic achievement, involvement in school and community activities, and interest in exploring a teaching career. Originally, Roberts said, there was a cap of 50 students for the academy this summer. However, with the shortage of teachers and the great interest of students, the academy has decided to accept 60 for this year’s program, which is themed “Reinventing Education”.

“Our goal is to increase it even more next year,” Roberts said. “They stay in Emporia State residence halls, eat on campus, explore Emporia, all with the primary purpose of exploring what it means to prepare for a career in education. We are delighted to have the highest number of students attending KFTA in recent memory, which shows us that young people are feeling the call to pursue careers in education.

The last two academies were held virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Terri Kaiser, a former KFTA coordinator who handles digital publications and publicity for ESU’s Teachers College programs. Kaiser said the KFTA began in 1989, following discussions between Dr. Robert Glennen, then ESU president, and Dr. Jack Skillett, who served as dean of the College of Education and Teachers College from 1984 to 1995. At first, KFTA was funded by a private foundation. Private funding for the Academy ceased in 2000. However, there are now funds set aside by the state for the Academy and students pay a $100 fee.

“It’s a good introduction to teaching and it only lasts five days,” Kaiser said. “If they discover, while attending the academy, that teaching is not something they want to pursue after all, it is good for them to discover it now, rather than halfway through their degrees. academics.”

The academy kicked off on Sunday, June 5, with tapings, team building exercises, garden games and social time. Students focused on project-based learning on Monday, June 6. They visited a one-room school; discussed evaluations; and heard presentations from Shawn Hornung, member of the 2020 Kansas Teacher of the Year team and social studies teacher at Wamego Unified School District 320; Susanne Stevenson, Kansas 2022 Teacher of the Year and Dodge City Fourth Grade Teacher $443; and Meghan Shave, Butler/Emporia Students to Teachers (BEST) program instructor.

On Tuesday, June 7, the focus was on social-emotional learning and included presentations by Kansas Commissioner of Education, Dr. Randy Watson, Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE ); Deputy Commissioner for Tax and Administrative Services, Dr. Craig Neuenswander, (KSDE); Dr. Dustin Springer, principal of Gray Hawk Elementary School, Basehor-Linwood $458; Tracie Chauvin, Social-Emotional Learning Coordinator for Kansas City $500; and Jan Madlock, science teacher at Bonner Springs High School, Bonner Springs Edwardsville 204 USD.

Students presented projects they worked on throughout the week of Thursday, June 9 and received a campus tour. Their academic experiences ended in the afternoon.

For more information about the program, visit https://www.emporia.edu/teachers-college/centers-services/kansas-future-teacher-academy/.

“It’s excellent,” Watson said of the academy. “They have done a great job of growing. Next year we need 150 students.

Neuenswander agreed: “It’s fun to see the enthusiasm and the excitement.”

Elizabeth Herrera, a 16-year-old who will be a student at Sumner Academy of Arts and Science, Kansas City US$500, said KFTA reinforced her career choice of becoming an educator. She wants to see more diversity in education.

“It inspired me,” she said.

Amiah McMurray-Hall, a 15-year-old who will be a junior at Topeka West High School, Topeka USD 501, said she wants to be a teacher who connects with her students.

“I like a comfortable environment when I’m learning,” McMurray-Hall said. “I want to model that.”

It’s also nice to be around like-minded people who have the same interests, she said.

“It helped me a lot,” McMurray-Hall said. “I met a whole group of friends.”

McMurray-Hall plans to participate in the Topeka Center for Advanced Learning and Careers’ Teaching as a Profession Pathway in its first year. This will allow her to take the ParaPro exam so she can become a paraprofessional at any Title I school.

Elijah Spooner, a 15-year-old who will be a sophomore at Smoky Valley High School in Lindsborg, Smoky Valley USD 400, said it was a valuable way to spend the start of his summer, and it only reassured him that his chosen career path is the right one.

While several KFTA attendees have said there are no teachers in their families, Morgan Way, a 17-year-old who will be a senior at Field Kindley High School, Coffeyville 445 USD, is proud to say that her grandmother is a specialist teacher at the same high school she attends – and her great-grandmother was also a teacher. The teenager has already been accepted to Fort Hays State University and plans to teach high school history or agriculture classes.

“It’s a great opportunity to bond,” Way said. “I get different adaptable tools, and that gives us a foot in the door. This is advantageous for anyone who wants to get into teaching.

Amy Hillman, a former science teacher and now a recruiting officer for Olathe $233, as well as a member of Kansas’ 2020 Teacher of the Year team, is spending this week connecting with academy attendees. – also staying in the dorms, eating nearby encouraging and introducing them. Roberts first asked Hillman to be a presenter at this year’s academy. Before she knew it, Hillman had joined the KFTA staff.

“It was a natural fit,” Hillman said. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

By spending so much time with academy attendees, Hillman hopes students will come away with the same enthusiasm she has for the teaching profession.

“So many lessons are being taken, not taught,” she said. “Here, we create ties and family. They realize their voice matters and we train them to think differently. They already know that change is about to happen. I leave my world to them – and I know they will crush it.

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Kansas Department of Education photo:

From left, Amiah McMurray Hall, a student from Topeka, Elizabeth Herrera, a student from Kansas City, and Elijah Spooner, a student from Smoky Valley, said Kansas Future Teacher Academy helped them decide that teaching was the right career choice for them.

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