Grow Your Own program helps aspiring teachers

Mikayla Burton

Two summer school teachers with the Fulton School District are the first to participate in the Grow Your Own program.

The new program that started this year is among four local institutions, Fulton Public Schools, Westminster College, William Woods University and the Fulton Public Schools Foundation. It focuses on helping students interested in becoming educators receive the training they need.

Through agreements with each college, one student from each will have their expenses paid while completing training with Fulton Public Schools. One goal is to improve the district's recruitment and retention efforts by attracting students to complete their training with the hope they'll stay with the district afterward.

Mikayla Burton is a Grow Your Own recipient and junior at William Woods University. She found out about the program through her academic advisor.

"I'm teaching summer school and it's been a really great experience," Burton said.

She will be starting her master's degree in the fall. Burton graduated from Fulton High School in 2020.

The partnership with William Woods University aims to provide financial support to a current undergraduate who would like to earn a masters degree in education at William Woods. The goal would be for a local student to have half of their expenses covered for their graduate degree, with a total benefit of $6,250.

The partnership with Westminster College aims to provide financial support for a student during their senior year. The goal would be for a student to have all expenses covered during their student teaching internship, including test fees for certification, with a total benefit of $6,250.

"I think what's unique about this partnership is the ability to not only teach summer school, but it does give you an advance experience in the classroom," said Fulton Assistant Superintendent Chris Hubbuch.

Sarah Crostic, is a GYO recipient at Westminster College. She said she was never the person who wanted to be a teacher, but she realized her passion for teaching and education during her senior year of high school.

"I cannot imagine myself doing anything but teaching. Education is the most powerful tool we can use to change the world and I have the honor to educate the next generation here in Fulton," Crostic said.

She came to Fulton from the suburbs of St. Louis. Crostic said moving to Fulton was a culture shock, but she quickly found her place within the tight knit community in Fulton at the elementary schools.

Outside of school, she said she can be found working on her farm or out on a boat in the river. Crostic's professor, Barri Bumgarner at Westminster College helped her find this opportunity.

Crostic said watching her students learn and have fun in class is what this scholarship is all about -- learning, growing, and having fun along the way.

"My experience with the program has been nothing but wonderful," Crostic said. "Fulton Public Schools have provided me with an opportunity like no other. I have taught summer school and can comfortably go into my student teaching knowing my own strengths and weaknesses as a teacher. The team at Westminster College has been so supportive in every step of the way. I know I have the support of the entire Fulton community behind me."

CORRECTION: This article was edited at 7:34 a.m. July 14, 2022, to correct the spelling of Chris Hubbuch's last name.

  photo  Sarah Crostic