KSD Invests In the Future with ‘Grow Your Own’ Scholarships

District program helps staff and students pursue teaching certificates

Kearney, Mo., May 9, 2024: In the spirit of spring, Kearney School District is planting seeds to grow teachers from Bulldog soil.

KSD continued the implementation of its “Grow Your Own” program this school year to provide significant financial support to help students and staff members pursue high-demand career opportunities as public educators. These efforts are all part of the district’s long-term strategic goal to fill all open positions and retain at least 90 percent of our staff.

“We believe that it’s important to develop the next generation of public educators,” Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Zach McMains said. “We do things a little differently here in KSD, and our performance speaks for itself.  Imagine a future where our incredible students are not just great learners but also great teachers, passing on our culture of excellence to generations to come. Our vision is to nurture and empower our students to become the best version of themselves!”

Dr. McMains credited Kearney High School teacher Mendy Salmonson for her leadership of the district’s Grow Your Own program. This initiative culminated with a “Future Educators Signing Day” event hosted by Ms. Salmonson and held on Tuesday, May 7, at Kearney High School. At this event, five KHS seniors were each awarded $600 scholarships to pursue teaching degrees at the colleges and universities of their choice. 

KSD’s 2024 Grow Your Own Scholarship recipients included:

  • Aubrey Boguske – Park University
  • Madison Gartin-Schwab – Northwest Missouri State University
  • Jaden Hensley – Metropolitan Community College 
  • Samantha Swafford – Northwest Missouri State University
  • Abigail Wymore – Metropolitan Community College

Those five scholarship recipients and four other students were all part of Ms. Salmonson’s Education Internship class. KSD paid $3,564 this school year for those nine students to earn dual college credit from the University of Central Missouri. The district also covered the cost for Ms. Wymore and Ms. Hensley to take and pass the paraprofessional certification exam, plus fingerprinting and background checks.

“It’s been great to start equipping all of these students with the skills they will need to become great public educators,” Salmonson said. “I’m so excited to see what they accomplish. Our students are our future and we need to make this investment.”

In addition to planting the seeds for future educators among KHS students, KSD lifted up our current team members by granting $1,200 college scholarships each to paraprofessionals Kari Dingus of Kearney Elementary and Penny Dunker of Hawthorne Elementary that they will use to earn their teaching certifications.

This KSD program was fully funded with a $10,000 “Grow Your Own” grant from Missouri’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). The state provided $2.5 million in one-time aid to 125 Local Education Agencies last winter to support these types of initiatives. KSD’s grant proposal was written by Assistant Superintendent for Academic Services Jennifer Kopp.

“Investing in young teachers isn’t just about education; it’s an investment in the future of our society,” Mrs. Kopp said. “By nurturing their potential, we shape generations to come, fostering innovation, empathy, and progress.”