The Kansas City, Kansas Teaching Fellows program began in 2000 as a partnership between Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools; Pittsburgh State University, and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The program was developed and facilitated in coordination with The New Teacher Project of New York to address the need for teachers in high-needs schools. The Kansas State Department of Education approved the alternative licensure program.
Between 2000 and 2010, the Kansas City Kansas Teaching Fellows program recruiting high-performing individuals from non-education related professions to teach in our KCK classrooms. We prepared and hired more than 200 teachers for the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools’ elementary and secondary classrooms. With Fellows, the district was able to staff vacancies that had been filled by long-term substitutes for many years.
Previously, nearly every high school math and science department consisted almost entirely of Fellows and achievement rates rose tremendously. While the initial need was for the math and science teachers, over time, we also accepted Fellows for elementary positions and for all content areas, including English, Social Studies, Spanish, Business, Fine Arts, and Family and Consumer Sciences.
Participants selected for the Fellows program completed a six-week summer institute “boot camp” experience that included teaching district summer school classes to KCK students in the morning and taking graduate-level classes in the afternoon or evening. The summer boot camp was taught by district personnel who prepared these teacher candidates for teaching in a high-needs school and meeting the needs of our students.
After an absence in the Fellows program from 2010-2015, KCKPS Administration team determined that school districts are beginning to feel the pressure of another teacher shortage, not only in KCK but across the state of Kansas and throughout our nation. KCKPS, with our Pittsburg State University partner, has re-ignited our successful KCK Teaching Fellows program for the 2016-2017 school year.
The vision of the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools is to be one of the Top 10 School Districts in the Nation. Our goal is that “Each student will exit high school prepared for college and careers in a global society, and at every level, performance is on-track and on-time for success.” By re-igniting the KCK Teaching Fellows program we will be able to ensure that our students have an additional source of highly qualified teachers, in order to reach their goals and for the KCKPS to continue the journey to becoming a Top 10 School District. Exciting partnerships with other colleges and universities, teaching organizations, business representatives and community agencies will enhance our ability to support Diploma+ program initiatives that will spread throughout our school district over the next few years.