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Today we continue our conversation with Arthur Mallory about his father's experiences teaching in a one room school, and hear from a couple of Hartville High School students about teaching Hartville's younger students through Missouri's A+ program.
In this edition of the Making A Difference Where You Live series, produced in cooperation with the Community Foundation of the Ozarks www.cfozarks.org we look at the CFO Rural Schools Partnership, Missouri’s A+ program, and Arthur Mallory’s maxim that “The nation lost a lot when we stopped asking older kids to teach younger kids.” Mallory, a former President of MSU and Commissioner of Education, also remembers his father’s experiences of teaching in a one room school and how his father had to rely on help from his older students.
Gary Funk, CEO of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, explains a portion of the concept behind the Rural Schools Partnership: “There’s a lot of interest in thinking of ways we can all work together not just to get more funding for schools and education, but also how we can engage kids in their communities, and how that engagement helps broaden support for public education in our region. What we want to have is intentionality, in the sense of kids becoming teachers but also recognizing that it’s more than just being a science teacher or a coach or a 4th grade teacher. That what they’re doing is really taking a leadership role in the community and also making a decision that impacts the community.”Robyn Hash and Zach McClannahan are seniors at Hartville High School in Wright County. Both are participants in their schools A+ program. Administered by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, declared students who graduate from a designated A+ high school and who meet certain GPA, citizenship and attendance records, are eligible for 2 years paid tuition to any public community or technical college and some 4 year institutions. Another requirement is for the student to perform a minimum of 50 hours of district supervised unpaid tutoring or mentoring. At Hartville, high school students are meeting the mentoring requirements in the elementary and pre-school classrooms. Robyn is a tutor in a 2nd grade classroom. Zach tutors in a 6th grade class. ROBYN: “I’m planning to be a teacher when I get out of college, so being with younger kids is really helpful to my career. I’ve learned that all the kids are different. Each of them has their own ideas, their own imaginations. You’re taking care of your own kids, and you have to learn that their problems come before yours. I feel like it’s prepared me for the real world”.ZACH: “I’ve become more patient with the kids. You have to get down a level they can understand. I’ve kind of become a big brother to one of the kids in my class. I make sure he gets his homework done before every class. I talked to him about the things I learned growing up, got down to his level. I really helped him with his spelling and science. By the time my time was up in that class, I could see his motivation and effort really did improve.”Jennifer Sanders is Principal of Hartville High School and is the schools A+ Coordinator: “I’m really proud of our students. They take their responsibilities seriously and we take our program seriously. They have only one hour a day that they’re able to go in and make connections with the students and the students will become comfortable enough to open up to them and share the difficulties they may be having academically and maybe personally. Our students come away with a lot of insight as to what the kids go through.”Arthur Mallory says there are similarities “A few years ago they said a great idea was cross age tutoring. Well, we had that way back in the one room rural schools.” Arthur Mallory’s father and mother were educators and his father’s first teaching job was at 16 years of age in front of 72 students in a one room school house on the Webster Wright county line. “The 7th graders would help the 4th graders. The 5th graders would help the 2nd graders, and the 2nd graders would sit there listening as the teacher and the 5th graders were working on their lessons. They were pretty well bathed in educational stuff all day long.”Arthur Mallory says the root responsibility for educating our kids is found not in the classroom but in the home. “Everything starts in the home. Now we then impanel the school, the teacher, and the school board to help with that, but the home needs to be involved. My dad told one time said “I don’t intend for the preacher or the teacher to have more influence over my children than I have.” We need to recommit ourselves to being concerned and responsible for our kids. I think the first thing to do is for the family to commit itself to be supportive of the constitutional authority of the teacher and the school and let the kids know that’s what we support. Now the question is can the school make a mistake? Absolutely, but most of the time the school will be right on. Just watch it and you’ll see it’s true.”For KSMU and Making A Difference Where you Live, I’m Mike Smith.