Three more minority high school seniors in Columbia Public Schools are in the pipeline to return to the district in a few years as teachers.
They took part Thursday in the CoMo Ed signing ceremony at Battle High School. The program provides full-ride, all-expenses-paid scholarships to colleges and universities with a guaranteed teaching job in CPS when they graduate.
Hickman senior Quenia Butler will be attending Central Methodist University, as will Battle senior Anyha Cain. Battle senior Huntar Salem will go to the University of Missouri.
“I used to play teacher as a kid,” Huntar said about her desire to become a teacher.
She plans to be an elementary teacher and will double major in special education, she said.
Quenia wants to be a kindergarten teacher, she said.
“I think I would be better with younger kids,” she said.
Teaching math or science to high school students is Anyha’s goal, she said.
She’s happy about the opportunity, but has trouble believing it, she said.
“I still feel it’s a shock,” she said. “I feel it’s not real. I don’t have to pay for nothing. Crazy.”
The program is important, said Chris Riley-Tillman, dean of the MU College of Education and Human Development.
“Thank you for letting us be a part of this,” Riley-Tillman said. “The public education system is the most important bedrock of society.”
Teachers are the foundation of public education, he said.
MU’s first CoMo Ed student graduates next Friday. Serenity Washington already is teaching second grade at West Boulevard Elementary School, though when school starts in August, she will be teaching fourth grade at Parkade Elementary School.
It’s an excellent program, Washington said. CPS staff have been supportive, even buying school supplies.
“They’ve been with me every step of the way,” Washington said.
Tyus Monroe, the first CoMo Ed graduate, began teaching in August 2021.
Two CoMo Ed students graduated from Columbia College last week, said Jennifer Crum, associate vice president for recruiting and admissions. There are five more still going through the program.
Central Methodist will have its first CoMo Ed graduate next week, said Abi Schapira, Central Methodist assistant director of admissions. Two others are on campus.
“We’re happy to bring on two more,” she said.
CPS Superintendent Brian Yearwood said he was excited about his first CoMo Ed signing ceremony.
“For me, this is like no other,” Yearwood said. “This initiative needs to be replicated, duplicated around the country.”
It’s important for CPS to have a diversified staff, and this program helps accomplish that, he said.
Roger Mckinney is the education reporter for the Tribune. You can reach him at [email protected] or 573-815-1719. He’s on Twitter at @rmckinney9.
This article originally appeared on Columbia Daily Tribune: Three students sign to CoMo Ed program to become teachers in CPS