Education Major Selected Among Best in Missouri for Prestigious Award

Genesis Ventura Amaro is on track to become an educator who changes lives
UMKC Early education student getting surprised with the Milken Teacher Leader of Tomorrow Award in the classroom she teaches at

Recent University of Missouri-Kansas City alumna Genesis Ventura Amaro is an Institute for Urban Education (IUE) scholar who is committed to teaching at historically underserved schools. She received the Milken Teacher Leader of Tomorrow Award before she graduated, making her one out of only 13 recipients in Missouri.

The Milken Teacher Leader of Tomorrow Award is a recent establishment from the Missouri branch of the Milken Educator Awards program to celebrate and encourage pre-service teachers enrolled in Missouri’s public Educator Preparation Programs. This year, one Kansas City area student teacher had the honor of receiving this award.

Amaro decided to become an educator after she immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic six years ago.

Amaro attended UMKC to study early childhood education and was an IUE scholar. This means that Amaro received additional training focused on teaching in urban schools and received a scholarship to support her while becoming a teacher; as an IUE scholar Amaro is committed to teaching in Kansas City’s urban schools for four years after graduation.

“I loved being a Roo and I am sad that my time at UMKC is over,” she said. “I really valued how much people wanted me to succeed at UMKC. Being a part of the IUE has allowed me to bring in a different, more responsive perspective to the spaces I find myself in. Discussions with my peers, the school I teach at in urban KC and even anybody who would let me talk about the importance of culturally responsive teaching and restorative practices. All of this I have learned through the IUE seminars.”

UMKC early education student getting surprised by the Milken Teacher Leader of Tomorrow award in her classroom as a surprise.

Amaro’s professor and mentor Jennifer Fergerson nominated her for the Milken Teacher Leader of Tomorrow Award.

“Gen has been a really strong student teacher and has thrived as an educator since she began,” Fergerson said. “She truly embodies what an educator is, and it shows in the classroom. It’s really easy to forget that she is student teaching, since she develops skills so quickly and teaches as someone with much more experience than she actually has.”

It was no surprise to Fergerson when Amaro was named as a recipient.

“I was really proud of her when she won,” Fergerson said. “Especially because right before I found out, Gen was having a conversation with me about how much she loves what she does. It was just so fitting. She truly deserves this recognition.”

However, it was a big surprise to Amaro since she didn’t even know she was nominated.

“I feel so honored to be a recipient of the award,” Amaro said. “As a student teacher, my focus has always been on what I could do better, so noticing what I am doing well can be challenging at times. It is very rewarding to know that my hard work is being noticed and acknowledged by others as well.”

Genesis Amaro sitting on the floor of the classroom she student teaches with her students making silly faces

Amaro completed her student teaching as part of a year-long internship at the Academy for Integrated Arts charter school (AFIA), which is also where she was presented with the surprise award.

The Milken Teacher Leader of Tomorrow Award recipients not only get an exclusive network of highly regarded fellow educators, but will also be actively supported during their first year in the classroom. Each recipient will be paired with a seasoned Milken Educator, who is an experienced teacher, as a mentor. The mentor will provide a safe space for the new educator to ask questions, share ideas and gain guidance.

“I’m inspired to become a teacher that students can relate to and connect deeply with,” Amaro said. “Even if I can’t change the teaching world, I can change the lives of individual children. I know how important early childhood is, and I am thankful to be blessed with the opportunity of being trusted with so many little minds and hearts to take care of.”

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