Donor Support Expands UMKC Teacher Education Programs

SchoolSmartKC funding accelerates student recruitment and program development

Funding from SchoolSmartKC supports the UMKC School of Education, Social Work and Psychological Sciences in growing programs to further meet the critical need for educators, particularly in the urban core.

SchoolSmartKC is a significant partner, both financially and philosophically, for the UMKC School of Education, Social Work and Psychological Sciences (SESWPS) and the Institute for Urban Education (IUE.) In the last year SchoolSmartKC (SSKC) has granted funds for the IUE’s Grow Your Own program as well as Project Recruit, Support, Retain, which bolsters student support and recruitment for the new 4 + 1 Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program. SSKC also provided support for Spring 2022 graduates who will teach in the Kansas City Public School System.

The partnership between IUE and SSKC is a natural one. Both organizations are working to optimize teacher and student success and eliminate the achievement gap for students in Kansas City, in addition to rethinking long-held tropes around teaching.

“I think everyone needs to keep in mind that teaching is very complex,” says Angelique Nedved, chief program officer for SSKC. “All of us come to learning with different backgrounds, different experiences and a different set of resources. However, when we have school as a structure, we tend to forget that, and we cluster people by their birthday, or maybe their interests.”

Nedved says it's imperative to talk about learners having individual needs. One reason SSKC partners with UMKC is because the SESPWS is actively tailoring  curriculum to serve the individual student and the community. In addition, both organizations have goals to provide support that bolsters teacher pipelines, so that high school students have the opportunity to see what effective teaching looks like and demonstrate that being a teacher is impactful and fulfilling.

“We focus on entities like IUE and UMKC because they have evidence of not only attracting, but also recruiting students of color who are interesting in teaching, and then providing the supports students need to succeed in the program and stay within their community to give back through education,” Nedved says.

“IUE is fortunate to work with a group of funders who are committed to long-term support of the teaching profession, from recruitment to preparation and into teachers’ careers." - Jennifer Waddell, Ph.D.

Rebecca Williams, director of talent development at SSKC, notes that teaching during the last two years has highlighted that learning is not one-size-fits-all for students or educators.

“If we are going to continue to have strong pipelines of talent, and teachers who are relating to students – from those who have the most troubling experiences, to those who find success with ease – we need to recognize that everyone can benefit from understanding those who look different within these systems that have been in place for so long,” Williams says.

SSKC sees SESWPS and IUE as valuable partners in building those pipelines of teachers. The funder’s support of the IUE GYO program has helped the program expand to additional schools as well as celebrate current high school students at a GYO symposium on UMKC’s campus.

Williams says the investments  is a strategy to avoid future teacher shortages.

“If we bolster these pipelines early on, to attract people to teaching and ensure they understand what teaching can be and demonstrate the feeling of ‘This is why I want to be a teacher, and this is where it can take me,’ when they are offered the opportunity, they will be likely to opt in,” Williams says. “Over a number of years, that creates a stronger pipeline.”

In addition to support for the GYO program, SSKC’s gift is supporting current teacher preparation programs at UMKC, including the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT). The MAT is part of the Teacher Education Professional Program. A one-year program, the MAT is designed as a cohort-based program for anyone with an undergraduate degree who is interested in becoming certified as a teacher with an additional year of coursework.

The program is structured to provide students with foundational knowledge of classroom practices, lesson plan instruction and assessment and experience that enhances effective teaching. Students can earn certification for middle or high school as well as K-12 foreign languages and/or art certification.

Jennifer Waddell, Ph.D., associate professor and IUE director, knows committed funders and their support have more influence than through donations alone.

“IUE is fortunate to work with a group of funders who are committed to long-term support of the teaching profession, from recruitment to preparation and into teachers’ careers. SSKC is one such funder. We are grateful for their support.”

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