WARRENSBURG — Where will tomorrow’s K-12 teachers come from? For many Missouri school districts, it’s possible these individuals will come from their own classrooms.
At least this is one of the hopes of educators who planned and organized the Future Teacher Academy Oct. 6 at the University of Central Missouri.
Attended by approximately 450 middle school and high school students and 50 faculty sponsors, the Future Teacher Academy is a cooperative effort designed to help students explore teaching as a possible career.
This initiative involves faculty members and students in UCM’s College of Education, faculty and students from more than 30 Missouri school districts, representatives of the Heart of Missouri Regional Professional Development Center, Central Missouri RPDC and the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
The academy began in 2018 as part of the UCM education faculty’s Grow Your Own Future efforts, and involved 10 students. But as public school-university relationships have grown, so has this event.
Linda Glasgow serves as coordinator of UCM’s paraprofessional program and is part of the team that helped plan this year’s FTA.
“I had the privilege of working with school district partners to invite students and faculty sponsors to campus in order to inspire them to consider teaching as a career,” Glasgow said. “I believe the exponential growth the program has experienced is a result of the relationships formed between UCM faculty and students and school district faculty and students.”
Glasgow said events such as the academy place value on providing attendees an opportunity to view themselves as future college students and as future teachers.
This was the first year middle school students have participated.
“High school students who have attended our past events have enjoyed and learned from UCM’s greatest resource: our students and faculty,” Glasgow said. “UCM students and faculty have presented in panel format and demonstrated what it looks like and feels like to attend UCM. Students speak about college life and how to balance college life, college studies and jobs. Faculty share their journeys to teaching and the path to the teaching profession at UCM.”
Further enhancing learning opportunities, academy participants engage in activities that help them understand the teaching profession and the important role teachers have in their communities.
”We hope to inspire students to choose teaching as a career and choose to return home to their communities as teachers,” Glasgow said. “The events are an invitation to the teaching profession and to making a difference in the lives of students.”
Meredith Beggs, assistant instructor, elementary education and math specialist, shared the list of participating schools, including Blue Springs, Lee’s Summit, Calhoun, Lone Jack and Slater.
Beggs said UCM, DESE and the RPDCs sent out invitations to the event to teachers and faculty sponsors of Future Teacher Clubs at middle schools and high schools around throughout the region.
“The teachers/faculty sponsors then shared the information with students who may be interested in the teaching profession,” Beggs said. “Some of the districts have participated in previous FTA events and are returning attendees.”
UCM President Roger Best and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Phil Bridgmon welcomed attendees.
The day concluded at the Union ballroom where 2021 Missouri Teacher of the Year, Darrion Cockrell, presented the keynote address.
“Twenty-plus years ago, I would have never imagined being in this position I am in today,” Cockrell said. “It’s definitely been a journey to say the least. But that’s the great thing about life. It’s the journey we go through day in and day out along with the connections we make with others along the way,” Cockrell told the gathering. “If it were not for my educators, who helped me stay focused and on track along my crazy journey of life, I cannot with any confidence or certainty tell you I’d be standing up here today.”
In addition to his recent state recognition, Cockrell received a 2020 National Box Tops for Education Twilight Award.