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CPS Revives Minority Educator Training Program

Minority students at Columbia Public Schools now have a chance to see what it’s like to work in a classroom before they go to college. This summer Columbia Public Schools re-launched a program for minority students in grades 9-12.

The Educational Experience Intern Program, or EdX, is designed to place minority students in elementary and middle school classrooms where they can work with a teacher. Program coordinator Monica Naylor said EdX aims to help the younger minority students see people in leadership roles who resemble them.

“Many of the interns go through a classroom situation without having anybody as a leader who looks like them. When you place these minority students in classrooms then they represent those cultures within the classroom and students then are drawn to them. It’s a positive thing of course for the students,” Naylor said.

Naylor was the Multicultural Coordinator for Columbia Public Schools from 1994-2004 and was the former coordinator of the Minority Internship Program, which disbanded in 2014 due to CPS budget cuts.

This summer there are a total of 10 interns working with students in several schools as a part of EdX. Two students were placed in middle schools, and eight were placed in elementary schools.

School board member Jonathan Sessions said the root of this program is to grow Columbia’s own teachers. He said the majority of teachers go back home to teach, so CPS needed to make sure it was trying to keep students in Columbia after college.

“If we have CPS students that are interested in being a teacher, let’s get them in a classroom and get them that experience early.” Sessions said.

Naylor said CPS Superintendent Peter Stiepleman sees the need for this kind of program. She said he sees that this program can help close the achievement gap between minority students and white students. Naylor said she feels like there is more support than ever for this type of program

“Being able to recognize the importance of minority educators in our school district, I think that speaks volumes about why the program is back,” Naylor said.

Naylor also hopes to expand the program in the near future. She said she would like to extend the high school intern program throughout the school year and add a college student component.

Naylor said students interested in education can use this program to test the waters.

“I don’t always close the door if students come in to the interview and say they want to be a fireman. Sometimes giving them that experience helps to build confidence," Naylor said. "Maybe some of them just don’t feel like they could handle a classroom. We just want them to be motivated, show initiative, and help the students in the classroom be successes.”