Grant helps Exeter train teachers

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

2 Exeter paraprofessionals head into 18-month course

The Exeter school district is making steps to increase the opportunity for staff, and two staff members have put in the work to be accepted into a program that will allow paraprofessionals to become certified teachers in an 18-month course.

The Missouri Achievement Through a Collaborative Teacher Residency Program is through the Southwest Center in Webb City.

Ernest Raney, Exeter superintendent, said two paraprofessionals in the Exeter school district applied to the program and landed two of 39 available slots.

“There were 72 applications, and only 39 people were approved,” he said. “This is an 18-month program that will be completely paid for.”

Raney said this program is for paraprofessionals in an elementary classroom setting that have 60 credit hours and are ready to further their education.

“This grant will allow them to become certified Missouri educators for elementary,” he said. “Getting quality teachers in our classrooms is important.

“We have paraprofessionals who are highly qualified and that we believe would make great teachers, but it isn’t always possible to go to school and work full time.”

Raney said this program is removing the financial burden, as well as, working into their timeframe online.

Zoe Brown, Exeter paraprofessional accepted into the program, said she has been with the Exeter school district since October.

“What I liked about it, is that I can work and go to school,” she said. “That is important because I can continue to gain experience in the field that I am going into.”

Brown said financially the grant helps as well, as she will not have debt when she finishes, which is nearly unheard of.

“I am going to get a degree in elementary eduction, which will certify me to teach grades 1-6,” she said. “I love this community and plan to stay in this school district. I grew up in Purdy, which is very similar.”

Brown graduated high school in 2018 and transferred to Exeter from Crowder.

“I am getting the opportunity to move quickly through this program,” she said. “I was originally looking into going into an accounting field, but I got a job at a daycare and realized I like working with children and connecting with them.”

Kerry Mattingly, Exeter paraprofessional in the program, said she had been on the Exeter school board for 11 years, but this is her first year in the classroom.

“I want to stay in lower elementary,” she said. “When I first started on my teaching degree, I thought I would go into middle school, but being in lower elementary has touched me, and I feel like this is where I am supposed to be.”

Mattingly said she had always wanted to teach, but she fell into a good job, although her heart wasn’t in it.

“God opened this door for me,” she said. “I was looking into the cost and the time it would take to go through Missouri State University, then this grant came through.

“That really told me this is where I should be, and I applied, did the work, and I got in.”

Having a family at home the financial aspect is phenomenal, Mattingly said.

“This is a gift not many people receive, and I am blessed and honored,” she said. “It will take hard work and I will put that hard work in. I graduated from Exeter, this is my home, my community, it is good to be here.”

Raney said the program is an investment the district can help make in maintaining to build quality teachers in the district.

“The idea is to be able to increase opportunity for staff,” he said. “Our hope is to retain teachers who are building a career to serve in our district for many years to come.”

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