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Collinsville schools to ‘grow their own teachers’ in new program

Collinsville Community Unit School District 10 has launched a “Grow Our Own” Future Teacher Program to encourage current high school students to become educators in the district.

“Our goal is to encourage, recruit and foster future Kahoks to not only pursue education as a career, but return to Collinsville to work and raise their families,” said CUSD 10 Superintendent Dr. Mark B. Skertich.

The aptly named “Kahoks Teaching Kahoks” program includes specialized courses available to students in grades 9-12 and a scholarship program for graduating seniors who will be education majors. There are plans to provide additional money for loan repayment if a program participant becomes a teacher within CUSD 10 once acquiring their appropriate teaching licensure.

Ameren Illinois announced they will support the scholarship program with $25,000 to empower CHS seniors to become future Kahok educators. The grant funds were made available through the Ameren Cares program, which connects Ameren Illinois with the communities it serves through charitable giving and volunteering.

“As a former educator myself, I’ve seen first-hand the difference that can be made in the lives of young people when they see teachers who look like them, come from similar backgrounds, and understand the unique socio-economic needs of the local community,” Skertich (shown) said. “Ameren Illinois is proud to support this important initiative and help Collinsville Community School District prepare their students for careers as future Kahok teachers.”

Future teacher courses

The courses are an expansion of curriculum offered through Collinsville High School and the Collinsville Area Vocational Center – some offering dual credit through Southwestern Illinois College. The new courses were approved by the CUSD 10 Board of Education Sept. 20.

“For the 22/23 school year, the Collinsville Area Vocational Center will be rolling out our revamped education program. This will consist of 3 classes: Early Childhood Education, Teaching as a Profession, and Teaching Practicum. These classes will allow us to continue running our own preschool, while also introducing future teachers to the profession through classwork and student teaching opportunities within the district,’ said CAVC Director Joe McGinnis.

Collinsville High School students can take a new one-hour elective titled “Child Development & Instruction” as early as their freshman or sophomore year. Content includes projects to develop an understanding of the learner and the learning process, instructional planning, the learning environment, instructional strategies, and career opportunities in the field of education.

Courses offered to students through CAVC include:

  • Early Childhood – 2.5 hour dual credit – Prepares students to work with young

children (PreK-K) through classroom and job shadowing experiences, as well as an on-site preschool center.

  • Teaching as a Profession – 2.5 hour dual credit – Provides an opportunity for students to develop skills in areas such as lesson plans, teaching strategies, learning styles, diversity in education, and classroom management.
  • Education Practicum – 2.5 hour dual credit – Provides workplace experience to students in fields related to education. Students will be placed in district buildings at various grade levels based on career pathways in education.

Scholarships

When the districtwide Kahok Diversity & Equity Committee was formed in 2019, members’ initial task was to discuss ways to recruit more minority teachers. This led to the district’s concerted effort to “grow” teachers by encouraging current students to pursue careers in education.

The Kahok Diversity & Equity Committee has established the Future Teachers Scholarship program for Collinsville High School seniors. Upon selection, scholarship recipients will be awarded $1,000 per year toward their college expenses for four years. Committee members have finalized the selection rubric and will release the application in time for the Class of 2022 to apply in the spring.

The Kahoks Teaching Kahoks scholarships are among a number of new scholarship opportunities that will be announced by CAVC Director Joe McGinnis in coming weeks.

“We have worked hard over the past year to develop a vehicle that will allow us to initially offer a few scholarships to encourage students to pursue their desired career whether it be in Education or the Industrial Trades. Looking toward the future we hope to expand our scholarship offerings in number and the amount awarded to students,” he explained.

Scholarship funding

Funding for the scholarship program will come from personal and corporate donations, as well as a payroll deduction program for CUSD 10 employees. Donations are tax deductible and will be accepted through the existing Collinsville Education Scholarship Foundation 501c3. The initial number of scholarships presented will be based on the amount of money raised during the current fundraising effort.

“Our current goal is to award $12,000 – $16,000 in Kahoks Teaching Kahoks scholarships annually,” said Superintendent Dr. Skertich. “We are fortunate to partner with the Collinsville Education Scholarship Foundation to receive and administer the funds.

Donations are tax deductible and eligible for corporate matching. We also want to encourage donations in honor or memory of individuals – especially current and former educators.”

“Having the ability to assist students in their future education and careers is extremely important for the students, our school district, and our community. We are taking a grassroots approach, to build our students into the future workforce of Unit 10 and the community as a whole,” said McGinnis.

“The district is fortunate to have unwavering support from our families, communities and businesses. Ameren Illinois is a perfect example, and we want to thank Collinsville alumni and Ameren Illinois President Richard Mark for the support shown to Kahoks Teaching Kahoks. Their generosity will help Collinsville create its own pipeline of educators for years to come from within our school district,” said Skertich.

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