KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Teacher Retention and Recruitment Blue Ribbon Commission released its final report to legislators Tuesday in Jefferson City.
Commissioners presented their 22-page report, making a total of nine recommendations and further dividing them into immediate, short-term and long-term priorities.
A common theme running through many of the priorities centered around funding of teacher salaries and training programs.
This comes as future teachers continue contemplating whether entering the profession is worth it.
Neal Patterson and Hannah Goestenkors are both students in the Elementary Education Program at Rockhurst University’s School of Education.
The two students shared what drives them towards a career in education and what they need to succeed.
Patterson said he wants to get into education to change the narrative surrounding Black male educators.
“I want to put more representation in schools, especially Black male representation,” he said. “ I feel like we need more representation of Black males — that they can teach more than gym.”
Goestenkors, who was originally a nursing major, switched career paths after realizing that teaching was her passion.
The pair may have different stories, but have one goal in common — to create lessons and life plans for kids.
“I don’t want to just be a teacher, I want to be someone my student can lean on,” Goestenkors said. “We’re not just in school playing with kids, teaching kids — we are also planning their future.”
The pair said they understand the job doesn’t end when the bell rings.
“Teachers have to work most definitely from like six, till about five in the afternoon, but then they go home and also do so much more work to prepare for the next day,” Patterson said. ”They might’ve seen a kid that’s been abused, or a kid that was sick all day, or a kid that can’t eat.”
Patterson said that he understands the work is hard, but will not let that tear him away from his passion.
“I don’t personally want to feel that, because I do want to keep going, and I want to be able to keep teaching for a long time,” he said.
They both said they’re aware that the pay doesn’t match the work in and out of the classroom.
“Most teachers come out of pocket,” Patterson said. “If they are really deep into the profession, they’ll come out of pocket just so kids have something to eat, just so kids won’t get made fun of because their shoes have a certain scuff on them.”
Goestenkors agrees, but hopes teachers pay across the board will increase.
“I don’t think their pay is enough, just because they might not be clocked in at that time, but the outside work, the early mornings, late nights, that’s what I feel like they should be paid more for,” she said.
Both Patterson and Goestenkors say they are aware that a teachers’ salary isn’t much, but they are not in the role for the money.
“I feel like I’m not very much concerned because that good will come out, and that will come in forms of seeing those kids graduate high school or seeing those kids go off to college,” Patterson said.
In the meantime, both students are focused on taking notes, to build a better future for the next generation.
“Some people fail to realize how important school is,” Goestenkors said.