When news breaks about a dangerous situation, it’s natural to wonder what one might have done in a similar scenario: Tried to help? Been courageous? Perhaps made things worse? Running into burning buildings and shielding others from active shooters may be the sort of dramatic situations that come to mind. But far subtler opportunities to intervene on behalf of fellow humans come up more regularly than one may recognize — right in the grocery checkout aisle, for example, when witnessing a tense parent-child interaction. That’s the sort of scene Nancy Weaver and her colleagues at St. Louis University’s College for Public Health and Social Justice have been helping others around the region visualize and then learn to respond to in positive, practical ways.
Before being released from prison, Melvin Hill Jr. was doing everything in his power to secure a sustainable job that would allow him to fulfill his lifelong goals. Then a friend told him about the local nonprofit Concordance Academy of Leadership . Hill applied while he was still incarcerated. Last May, he was accepted into the program that supports reentry into society after prison. Recently, the academy received $1 million to advance its mission of reducing recidivism in Missouri and Illinois with a holistic approach to reentry into society.
James Gibbs remembers when the 522-student-capacity Dunbar Elementary School in St. Louis’ JeffVanderLou neighborhood could barely contain all his classmates. “It was maxed; it was capacity,” said Gibbs, who’s now 62 years old. “If it didn’t overflow, it was 500.” That was in the early 1970s when St. Louis Public Schools educated 111,000 students. Last fall, 155 registered at Dunbar, filling just 30% of the available classroom space. The district’s entire enrollment has fallen to 21,500, including 2,000 pre-schoolers.
As a child, Nichole McHenry envisioned herself broadcasting the news, just like famed St. Louis anchor Robin Smith. Although her dreams of becoming a reporter did not come to fruition, she found a different way to tell stories. For the past 28 years, McHenry has been sharing the stories of national parks and other connected sites for the National Park Service . McHenry began working full time with the park service right after graduating from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
In an attempt to relieve Illinois' severe teacher shortage, state lawmakers last year voted to remove a requirement known as the "basic skills test." That test has proven to be a stumbling block, especially for people pursuing the profession later in life, as a second career. This change, enacted just five months ago, has already opened the door for a would-be special education teacher in the East Moline School District.
Despite an entire semester of AP Gov at Clayton High School, Cassy Bennett still doesn’t know exactly how the Iowa caucuses work. “So I’d like to learn what that is,” the 17-year-old senior said, adding through her laugh she doesn’t blame her teacher. Bennett and 20 of her classmates hope to have a better idea of the quirky electoral practice after they spend the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend in Iowa volunteering for political campaigns and observing rallies.
The crackle of gunshots has become white noise for children living in parts of north St. Louis. “I got used to it,” a fifth grade girl said, “because it happen a lot, so I’m just not scared of it no more.” They know just what to do if they’re inside: “When I hear gunshots, I duck on the floor and get under my bed,” said a sixth grade boy.
Updated Jan. 9 with information about teacher recruitment efforts Missouri education officials have a handful of ideas on how to get more people interested in becoming public school teachers and then staying in the classroom for the long term. It goes along with a nearly $400 million pitch to increase teacher pay detailed last month. The six-point recruitment and retention plan reviewed and compiled by a teachers working group was presented to the State Board of Education during its monthly meeting Thursday.
A community organizing group wants St. Louis and St. Louis County to spend more money on early childhood education. In a report released Thursday, WEPOWER proposed a ballot initiative in November that would allow St. Louis County voters to consider a half-cent sales tax increase to expand access to pre-K. The group's members said that would raise about $84 million a year. The report also urges St. Louis officials to designate 2% of the city's general fund budget — about $22 million a year — to early childhood education.
There are approximately 500,000 adults in Missouri without a high school diploma. In 2017, to help mitigate that setback, then-Gov. Eric Greitens signed a measure that called for the opening of alternative high schools for adults, and Goodwill won the contract. The Metropolitan Employment Rehabilitation Services Goodwill established four Excel Centers across the state, in Springfield, Popular Bluff, St. Louis and Columbia , in 2018. The program is an alternative tuition-free high school that helps adults over the age of 21 earn their high school diplomas. The four centers have roughly 900 students combined. In St. Louis, the center on Locust Street recently had 47 students complete the program and cross the stage; the first commencement included six students.
More Illinois students now qualify for college financial aid. State government will now offer money to students who might have been disqualified from getting federal help. Sam Dunklau reports.
What is there to say about the number 7? It’s odd, it’s prime. It can be reached by adding 3 + 4, 5 + 2 and 6 + 1. That may be how a teacher has a “math conversation” with young students under a new approach to math education piloted by Washington University’s Institute for School Partnership, called Math314.
Twice a month, about 50 high schoolers gather at Planned Parenthood in midtown St. Louis to attend a sort of alternative sex education class. The students are volunteer members of Planned Parenthood’s Teen Advocates for Sexual Health program, which hosts evening meetings and retreats to teach teenagers about healthy sexuality. With snacks and worksheets in hand, students participate in interactive activities and discussion about consent, sexual violence and other topics. Yet some students in the program say they aren’t learning about consent and sexual violence outside of this program, even after an updated Missouri law called on schools to change their sexual education curriculum.
Sixth grader Andre Turner leaned up against a wall-size mural of the new reading center at Confluence Academy-Old North. His head rested on the “B,” about a foot taller than he is, that helped to form the word “Believe.” Turner was trying to stay out of the way as representatives from IKEA, Scholastic, Nine Network, Ready Readers and We Stories and leaders from his school district excitedly milled around the brand-new room. When his fellow students return from winter break, they will be able to experience a quiet, relaxing reading room filled with black children’s literature and comfortable seating.
The Biome School, a small, independent public charter school in St. Louis, has to rely on donations for a quarter of its funding to educate 178 students. “We're certainly not crying foul from the standpoint that we knew the business model was broken when we launched the charter school,” said Bill Kent, school president and CEO. The school’s fundraising efforts go toward paying teachers and counselors, filling the $1,100 gap between what it receives in per-student funding from tax revenue and what St. Louis Public Schools gets. Fundraising, Kent contends, should be supplemental, not for core functions of a school educating a high-needs student population. “Without our fundraising, we would not have the robust student support services that we have for such a small school,” he said. Kent and other charter school operators are on the offensive this winter to change the way they’re funded, asking that they receive the same per-student amount as traditional public school districts. The 80
Inmates at a Missouri prison will be able to prepare for the workforce prior to their release, thanks to an in-house training program. The Re-Entry Center at Tipton Correctional Center, the first of its kind in Missouri, opened Wednesday. The center will connect inmates with potential employers and provide a variety of educational resources. The Missouri Department of Corrections plans to open three additional re-entry centers in other prisons across the state next year, as part of an effort to break the cycle of reincarceration.
School at McKinley Classical Leadership Academy Middle School begins at 7:10 a.m. If Lisa Manzo-Preston’s seventh grade daughter took the bus to the St. Louis public school, she’d have to be outside at 6:03 a.m. on the dot. “That's impossible for us. That’s absolutely not something we're able to do because of her level of exhaustion and her inability to wake up in the morning,” she said.
While the sun is still up, gunshots ring out as Poplar Bluff High School's trapshooting team tries to get in a few extra rounds. Head coach Sandy Pike gives advice as a new member prepares to aim his shotgun and attempt to shoot a clay target out of the air. She tells him to lift up his weapon, and, when he's ready, say the word to make the disc fly: "Pull!" The competitive trap season might be over, but that's not stopping the team on a Saturday evening in November. Since starting in 2010, the trap team has grown from eight to about 30 members, and Pike said that's thanks to outside funding from the National Rifle Association. It's one of 80 K-12 and 4-H programs the NRA Foundation has supported over the years in Missouri.
Waiel Turner, 20, was not planning on going to college. He thought about entering the U.S. Air Force or becoming a police officer for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. Enrolling at Harris-Stowe State University was strictly happenstance. In 2017, he accompanied a friend to the campus in midtown St. Louis where she was registering for classes. An admissions counselor told Turner he should enroll. Two days later, Turner became a college student. Turner said it is the family environment that makes Harris-Stowe home for him. Like many historically black colleges and universities , Harris-Stowe is struggling to keep its tight-knit family of students and staff together in the face of shaky finances and relative lack of state resources.
The two-story house Laine Schenkelberg purchased on Maplewood’s Marietta Avenue in 2009 was supposed to be a starter home. A decade later, she shares the house with her husband, Eric, and their four children ages 7 months to 9 years, along with a cat. When it was time for their oldest, Xavier, to begin school, the couple toured private options, but nothing felt quite right. Then a friend persuaded them to check out the Early Childhood Center, run by the Maplewood Richmond Heights School District.