Grow Your Own Teacher program

Fort Zumwalt Education Foundation Grow Your Own Teacher program provides scholarships to Zumwalt students who will return as teachers in high-need areas

By Brett Auten

The Fort Zumwalt School District has been investing in its own and it is starting to see the dividends.

The Fort Zumwalt Education Foundation has provided Fort Zumwalt seniors interested in pursuing a teaching career in a “high needs,” area tuition assistance awards since 2005. The Foundation gives loans to deserving future district teachers for four years in the areas of special education, foreign language, industrial technology, math, and science. The no-interest, $7,000 loan is forgiven once the student completes their fourth year of teaching within the Fort Zumwalt School District in a high-needs area. 

The district has placed 11 teachers in the classroom since 2007, with eight more working towards completing their degree.

Dr. Jackie Floyd is an Assistant Superintendent for Personnel and oversees the Grow Your Own Teacher program.

“It has really been something to see them leave here as an 18-year-old student and then return and start families,” Floyd said. “It has held true what we had thought at the time, which is that these are committed and community-centered educators.”

Many school districts throughout the country have a variation of the Grow Your Own Program. The program came about after a steering committee, formed at the request of the board of education, recommended the creation of an educational foundation in order to fund a program that was having success in other districts around the country, “Grow Your Own Teachers”. 

“You end up with a very talented, committed educator,” Floyd said. “They believe in it. They believe they can make a difference.”

The students not only receive financial support, but also receive ongoing mentor support from current Fort Zumwalt teachers, attendance at educational seminars and other work experiences.

This year, the winners were whittled down from a field of 23. Applicants went through an interview process similar to the ones given to prospective teachers fresh from university. 

Recently, Suzy Powers a senior at Zumwalt West High who will attend Missouri State, and Jacob Morris, a senior at Zumwalt East High, who will attend Truman State University were recognized. Powers and Morris were selected from a pool of eligible seniors who applied. Powers wants to be a special education teacher. She is senior class president, ran cross country and is a member of the League of Leaders. Morris wants to teach high school math. He was captain of the football and basketball teams and is in the Captain’s Club and also the League of Leaders. 

The Fort Zumwalt Education Foundation holds three fundraisers a year and Floyd also noted that “a significant chunk,” of the program’s funding comes through the district’s staff who have opted to contribute a fixed amount every pay period. 

CUTLINE: Photos courtesy Fort Zumwalt School District 

Cover-Grow1 Fort Zumwalt West High senior Suzy Powers and Fort Zumwalt East High senior Jacob Morris were selected for the of the Fort Zumwalt Education Foundation Grow Your Own Teacher awards and, upon completion of their degrees, they will return to teach in Fort Zumwalt.

Cover-Grow2 Makenna Farrier is Fort Zumwalt School District’s newest Grow Your Own Teacher. She graduated from Fort Zumwalt East High four years ago, and from Truman University last spring. She currently works at Dardenne Elementary and is shown here working with students on phonics.