Education

Biology teacher LaJuana Stidmon examins at microscope she received as a gift at Clyde C. Miller Career Academy in St. Louis earlier this month on Aug. 11, 2016.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Comparatively low pay. Long hours. High — and often changing — expectations. A sometimes reluctant audience. Two months of vacation isn’t a big enough perk to lure anyone into the teaching profession for long. So what inspires St. Louis teachers to return each year?

With most St. Louis area schools now back in session, St. Louis Public Radio asked local teachers what keeps them coming back, what are their biggest challenges and what advice they have for parents.

Brittany Packnett discussed education, Teach for America, racial equity, Black Lives Matter and more on "St. Louis on the Air" on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Earlier this summer, Brittany Packnett announced she would be leaving her role as the Executive Director of Teach for America-St. Louis and would become TFA’s new vice president of National Community Alliances. That role starts October 1.

Before she starts the new position, Packnett joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh to look back on her work with TFA in St. Louis, her participation on the Ferguson Commission and President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21th Century Policing and her social activism. 

The downtown headquarters building for the St. Louis Public Schools
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 8:50 p.m. Aug. 16, with results of an attempted meeting - A meeting to discuss moving the St. Louis Public Schools back under the control of an elected board was adjourned just five minutes after it started Tuesday evening because one member of the elected board who was not supposed to be there refused to leave.

The dispute could scuttle any effort to have the elected board replace the appointed Special Administrative Board that has run the district since 2007.

Laura Polak and her niece Ruby take part in Lap Time at St. Louis County Library's Grant's View branch.
Provided | St. Louis County Library

Whether mom reads “Goodnight Moon” before bedtime every night for a month, or grandpa helps the kids check out seven new books each week, St. Louis County Library wants to make sure babies and toddlers are getting exposed to lots of different words.

To encourage parents to start reading to children early and often, the library launched a program Monday called 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten.

Janaya Heard, 9, and Armani Williams, 15, pose for a portrait inside their lemonade stand Aug. 13, 2016. Janaya likes the regular lemonade; Armani suggested trying the watermelon lemonade.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Five girls from the JeffVanderLou neighborhood of north St. Louis are headed back to school this year with a jump-start on thinking critically.

They’ve spent the past few weeks developing a business plan for a lemonade stand and selling the drink outside St. Louis Metro Market’s JeffVanderLou stop.

LeDiva Pierce with her daughters Alfreida (left) and Unique. Pierce is one of two charter school parents seeking to intervene as plaintiffs in St. Louis Public School's dispute with the state over funding.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Aug. 10 with appeal — Two St. Louis charter school parents are renewing their effort to have a say in a lawsuit that could change the way public schools are funded in the city.

LeDiva Pierce and Ken Ross Jr. filed an appeal Wednesday to join a suit against the state of Missouri by St. Louis Public Schools.

Karen Apricot | Flickr

Retired teachers in Missouri are learning a hard but simple math lesson: Longer life spans plus smaller investment returns equal no cost-of-living raise in their pensions for next year.

In dollars-and-cents terms, that means that the board of the state’s Public School Retirement System has voted that if inflation falls below 2 percent for 2016, which appears all but certain, school retirees will get no raise in their pensions.

Professors Stefan Bradley (L) and Kimberly Norwood (M) joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh in studio today. Marcia Chatelain (R), is pictured here in a file photo from 2015, and joined the show by phone.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

The police shooting death of Michael Brown Jr. in Ferguson, which happened two years ago today, sparked a plethora of conversations about race, policing, protest, and social justice in the United States. One of the places these conversations have taken place is in institutions of higher education.

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

An audit of the Missouri Department of Higher Education takes issue with a now-defunct loan program it still oversees.

The Advantage Missouri program paid out a total of $8 million in student loans from 1998 to 2005. The audit finds that $5.2 million of those $8 million have still not been repaid.

A person filling in a standardized test bubble sheet with a pencil.
Flickr | Alberto G.

Schools seem to start classes earlier each year, but the results of student tests — and the annual district report cards that depend on them — will be later once again.

The reason: As Missouri learning standards keep changing, education officials have to take more time to figure out what the test scores mean.

UMSL grad students Aaron Willis, right, and Mario Charles help students in the ULEAD program.
August Jennewein | UMSL

In the face of tragic news about violent crime and clashes with police, students may feel they won’t get a fair shake from those who are in charge.

A new course put together by graduate students at the University of Missouri-St. Louis known as ULEAD was designed to help explain what is going on and how to handle it.  

ULEAD stands for Urban Legal Education and Academic Development. In plainer language, it wants students in middle school and high school to have a “working knowledge of the legal and civic nuances” of the communities where they live.

SLPS science teachers Ninfa Matiase, LaJuana Stidmon and Jeremy Resmann practice an experiment Aug. 3, 2016 during training provided by the National Math and Science Initiative.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Two weeks before the new school year, St. Louis Public School teachers Ninfa Matiase, LaJuana Stidmon and Jeremy Resmann cut red agar into squares before dropping them into vinegar. It’s an experiment to test how quickly the cubes absorb the vinegar — one of several lesson plans the teachers have learned over the past two weeks during training provided by the National Math and Science Initiative.

Stidmon, a science teacher at Clyde C. Miller Career Academy, says the training has given her a framework to focus her AP biology class.

The director of Missouri’s Center for Education Safety wants the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to require all schools to have plans for responding to active shooters and other emergencies.   

Millennium Student Center at UMSL
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

After successful organizing campaigns with part-time faculty at Washington University, Saint Louis University and St. Louis Community College, a union is now turning its attention to the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

And a top UMSL official wants to make sure that teachers on campus know what is at stake.

Jacob and Jahede Parker picked out almost identical gray camo coats at the Back-to-School Store. Jacob's had a bright yellow lining, while Jahede's lining was white.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Eight-year-old Jahede Parker has brand new red sneakers and a gray camo coat to start his new school year at Patrick Henry Downtown Academy in St. Louis.

His twin brother Jacob picked out an almost identical coat Sunday, when the two joined more than a thousand other local elementary kids shopping at the free back-to-school fair sponsored by the St. Louis chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women.

Danielle Washington of the Wyman Center walks Ozzie Furlow through financial aid literacy training at St. Louis Graduates' High School to College Center. Furlow plans to enroll as a freshman at Arkansas Baptist in August 2016.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

When Ozzie Furlow graduated from Hazelwood East High School in June, he planned to attend Missouri Western State University in the fall.

But there was a problem.

“They wanted me to be part time, and I have nobody to stay (with) down there,” Furlow said.

University of Missouri-Columbia

If a candidate for the presidency of the University of Missouri asks interviewers about their priorities for the system and the themes that are part of the school’s vision, what should the answers be?

That was the topic of a meeting of the university’s Board of Curators in Kansas City on Friday. For anyone who has been following the up-and-down fortunes of the university in recent months, the list they came up with will look familiar:

Family, friends and colleagues gathered outside Dunbar Elementary School to remember Jacara Sproaps.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Yellow and green balloons floated above a crowd gathered outside Dunbar Elementary School Wednesday as family, friends and colleagues clutched candles, held hands and remembered Jacara Sproaps.

Missouri Department of Higher Education

When it comes to education, Missouri has no shortage of goals.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education wants the state to be in, as its slogan says, in the Top 10 by 20 – among the leaders in a variety of school measures by the year 2020.

Not to be outdone, the state’s Department of Higher Education has its sights set a little further out, on 2025. Nine years from now, it wants Missouri to have 60 percent of its working-age adults with postsecondary credentials, to be in the top 10 for investment in academic research and to rank among the 10 most affordable states in which to obtain a postsecondary degree or certificate.

Edmund Lee
provided by family

Updated July 19 with response to judge's ruling— A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against St. Louis’ voluntary desegregation program.

La’Shieka White sued the program because her son, who is black, is barred from attending a city charter school now that her family has moved to Maryland Heights. Her suit called the program’s race-based restrictions unconstitutional.

Third-grader Michael Scott launches his straw rocket at Boeing's free science and technology camp Saturday, July 16, 2016 at McClure South-Berkley High School.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

More than 300 students from age eight to 18 spent Saturday doing hands-on activities like building straw rockets and trying out a flight simulator at McClure South-Berkley High School in the Ferguson-Florissant School District.

The one-day, free summer camp sponsored by Boeing let kids explore science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, known as STEAM.

This was the second year Boeing held the event in north St. Louis County. The company has been offering a similar one-day camp in the city of St. Louis since 2011.

Jacara Sproaps became principal of Dunbar Elementary School in July 2013.
Provided | St. Louis Public Schools

Updated July 15 with suspect’s name, charges — St. Louis Public Schools has lost a second educator to violence in less than a year. Dunbar Elementary School Principal Jacara Sproaps was killed Wednesday night in south St. Louis.

Police said Thursday Sproaps, 38, was shot and killed outside her home in the Gravois Park neighborhood by a man angry with her over their past relationship.

Her boyfriend, Maurice Partlow, was also killed, and her 18-year-old son is in critical but stable condition at an area hospital.One of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police officers who responded to the scene was grazed in the shin by a bullet.

comedy nose | Flickr

Eligibility requirements and classes geared for special interests and abilities apparently are not enough of an attraction for some parents with other options at their disposal when faced with St. Louis Public Schools’ overall tarnished reputation.

The district has more than 1,400 open slots for students to enroll in its choice and magnet high schools for the upcoming 2016-2017 school year.

An archway entrance to Saint Louis University
chuteme | Flickr | Creative Commons

Would you pay a few thousand bucks to sit on the bench during a Saint Louis University basketball game as an honorary coach? Or be willing to round all your university purchases up to the next dollar and turn the difference into a donation instead of pocket change?

Those are just a couple of the hundreds of ideas submitted to a program called GrowingSLU, an effort to bolster the university through programs, academic or not, that contribute to both its mission and its bottom line.

How do you talk about policing with your children? Gregory Carr, Sr., and Gregory Carr, Jr., discuss the impact policing has had on their lives.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Gregory Carr Jr. is fourteen years old, a rising sophomore, and about to have a birthday that means he’ll be able to get his driver’s permit. That coming-of-age ritual has taken an ominous tone in recent days after the police shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Castile was shot to death by a police officer in St. Paul, Minn., while in his car.

When St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh asked what the world looks like to him right now, Carr Jr. replied:

Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Joseph Hill wanted to join his twin brother in the accounting program at the University of Missouri-St. Louis this fall, but he didn’t quite have his act together.

That’s why he was glad to hear about the campus’ Quick Admit Day on Wednesday. He was able to get admitted, talk to an adviser, look at possible courses and even take part in orientation if he chose, all in one day.

The St. Louis Public Schools elected board discusses business during its June meeting as state board of education member Vic Lenz looks on.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

Updated at 9:40 p.m. Tuesday with comments after the meeting - Nine years after a three-member appointed board took over a dysfunctional, poorly performing St. Louis Public Schools system, talks have begun on how an elected board can regain authority over a calmer, much-improved district.

Three members of the current elected board, along with two members of the state school board and the president of the appointed Special Administrative Board, gathered at the district’s downtown headquarters Tuesday evening.

Rick Sullivan (left), president of the city schools' Special Administrative Board, and Superintendent Kelvin Adams attend the campaign kickoff for Proposition 1
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis School Superintendent Kelvin Adams has signed a contract to stay on the job for another three years.

The new contract calls for his base salary to remain at $225,000 a year – the same salary he has had since he became head of the school district in 2008. But his automobile allowance rises to $800 a month from the $300 a month payment included in the old contract that expired last week. The $800 figure had been part of earlier contracts that Adams signed with the district.

teaching
St. Louis Public Radio file photo

After 25 years as a gym teacher, Annalee Zweig knows a lot of different exercises. But she had never encountered the hoops she had to jump through to get jobs as a substitute teacher.

Zweig subs in Parkway, where she taught at four elementary schools before retiring five years ago. This past year, Parkway — along with Normandy and Maplewood Richmond Heights — contracted with a division of Kelly Services, the temporary help company, to recruit, place and employ substitute teachers.

Paul Sableman | Flickr | http://bit.ly/28QjQfu

Ever wondered about that Optimist International building on Lindell across from the Basilica?

If you have, you’re not alone. Although many St. Louisans may be unfamiliar with the non-profit organization, Optimist International has over 2,500 clubs in 35 different countries. Its mission is serving youth, and its headquarters are located here in St. Louis.

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