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Education issues in mid-Missouri.

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A blonde teenager balanced a stack of papers in his hand as he spoke with his Honors Humanities professor. He had something to announce to the class.

His name is Greg Pierson and he is running for City Council.

In order to officially announce his candidacy, Pierson needed at least 50 signatures on his petition. To earn even more signatures, he also carried with him a stack of voter registration forms since only Missouri voters’ signatures on the petition would be valid.

Meiying Wu / KBIA

To read more about High School 2.0, visit our media partner the Columbia Missourian.


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MU senior Daniel Serres and junior Vanessa Ramírez walked into a room with 15 other student entrepreneurs. Each team had their own business idea and vied for the opportunity to win up to $30,000 in start-up funds after pitching their idea to a panel of judges. The 15 businesses had been chosen from a pool of 50 applicants.

“Every room we walk in, we’re constantly thinking like, how we can collaborate with people,” Ramírez said. “So we see competition, but at the same time, we also see potential relationships.”


Shaashawn Dial has worn a lot of hats. She’s a poet. A former host of an R&B radio station. A former head of equity and affirmative action in a state capitol. A business owner. 

But perhaps the most important role is a mentor. She’s helped people leave abusive relationships, adults get their GEDs and undergraduate students navigate college life. 

And now Dial is the first director of diversity, equity and inclusion at Stephen's College.

“I am about women making decisions for themselves mentally, physically, spiritually, economically,” Dial said.

Kassidy Arena / KBIA


Centro Latino Offers Haven to Latino Community

Oct 28, 2019
Dorothy Scales / Centro Latino de Salud


Complete Transcript:


Host Introduction: Welcome to Exam on KBIA, where we talk all about education and academic issues all across Missouri. I'm Kassidy Arena and this week, KBIA's Xcaret Nunez went to Centro Latino, a place that provides resources to Columbia's immigrant population.

Ryan Famuliner / KBIA

The #metoo movement shed light on people in power taking advantage of those working for them, but in many homes across mid-Missouri, the power imbalance is right there…in people’s marriages, dating relationships and other partnerships with people. Mary Beck is looking to change that.

She is the director of the Family Violence Clinic where she oversees law students who represent survivors of domestic violence. These students help survivors with a litigation plan, economic plan and safety plan.

Kassidy Arena / KBIA

  Dr. James Wells, professor of Classics at DePauw University in Indiana visited the MU campus to talk about the importance of translation in modern day.

Wells himself wasn’t aware of the classics until well into his own undergraduate studies. He first went to school to study science.

“A D in Biology and a little note on my first calculus test, which read, I suggest you perhaps drop this course and try again in the future sort of tanked my career as a scientist,” Wells said.

Kassidy Arena / KBIA


Thrive Coffee and Creamery has the aesthetic of any Instagram-able business on the outside: tiffany blue adornments, flowers on the counter, homemade ice creams. But the similarities end there. Thrive is a 100 percent nonprofit corporation with the goal of giving every dollar earned back to the community.

Jane Mather-Glass / KBIA

Kristin Bowen is the leader of Columbia’s local Moms Demand Action group. Moms Demand Action is a locally-funded group that focuses on gun safety with chapters across the United States.

Bowen started the Columbia organization in 2015 because she said the issue of gun violence, like many parents, affected her emotionally.

Kassidy Arena / KBIA

Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat have more in common than just social outreach—they harm young girls’ self-perceived body image.

Studies show the more adolescent females see unrealistic body types and filters, the more likely they will suffer from low self-esteem or poor self-confidence.

Toronto, Canada’s York University Professor of Psychology Jennifer Mills and Ph.D. student Jacqueline Hogue recently released their study which found “actively engaging with attractive peers’ social media causes worsened body image in young adult women.”

Meiying Wu / KBIA

Columbia School Board election winners Della Streaty-Wilhoit and Blake Willoughby were sworn into their positions on the board Monday night, after a handful of months campaigning and one victorious night celebrating.

Streaty-Wilhoit and Willoughby are replacing retiring members James Whitt and Jan Mees, who stepped down from their positions Monday. Whitt and Mees both acknowledged they experienced a learning curve when first placed on the board and had some advice for the incoming members.

Stephanie Carlo

Stephanie Carlo followed her dream of being in the fashion world by assisting designer Gustavo Arango in Puerto Rico. While working under his wing, Carlo’s friend recommended her for a teaching position at Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri. Carlo spoke briefly to the recruiter and decided to follow a new passion of hers: teaching.

Carlo packed her bags and left her entire family on the island to teach fashion design and product development, among other courses, at the all-womens college. Her weekdays consist of teaching back-to-back classes and meetings, but her work isn’t limited to Monday through Friday. On weekends, Carlo helps her students with their collections on her own time.

Exam - Columbia School Board Candidate Wrap-Up

Apr 1, 2019
Nathan Lawrence / KBIA

April 2nd is General Municipal Election Day and many mid-Missourians will head to the polls to vote for city council members, school board members, mayors and some areas like Southern Boone, Cole County and Fayette will vote on a few different proposals.

Here on Exam, we have spoke with the three candidates running for Columbia Public School's Board of Education: Della Streaty-Wilhoit, Blake Willoughby and Jay Atkins. On today’s episode, we are going to recap those conversations.

Seth Bodine / KBIA

Columbia Board of Education candidate Jay Atkins said if he could imagine a perfect school district, it would be one that had 100 percent literacy at the third-grade level.

For Atkins, who has three children in the Columbia Public Schools and a fourth that will soon enter, literacy is on the top of his campaign agenda. He said he decided to run because he wanted to be more involved and make sure schools are under proper stewardship.

Sidney Steele / KBIA

Blake Willoughby is the youngest candidate for the Columbia Board of Education, by a sizeable margin. While some might see this as negative, Willoughby sees this as one of his greatest advantages.

“I bring a fresh perspective of being a young, community engaged, artist-educator,” Willoughby said. “I am the closest in age to understanding what our kids are navigating when they graduate high school and become life-ready.”

Kassidy Arena / KBIA

Ardella Streaty-Wilhoit, or more commonly known as Della, is passionate about educating youth. She describes herself as a family woman first and candidate for the Columbia Public School’s Board of Education second.

“I got up one morning, and I just simply told my husband, you know, I think I will file for school board,” Streaty-Wilhoit said. Her shoulders shook as she laughed about the out-of-the-blue assertion.

Streaty-Wilhoit grew up in a household of 12. Her parents instilled in her and her siblings that education is wealth, and there are no shortcuts. Streaty-Wilhoit took this advice seriously. She earned her PhD in Food and Natural Resources at MU at 50 years old.

Wade Sisler / NASA

MU graduate student Marlee Baldridge did not major in science, she does not have any scientific background nor did she ever participate in lab work. Baldridge, though, spent her fall as an intern for NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Even with a lack of professional science training, Baldridge’s main job as a NASA communicator was to take the science the scientists researched and translate it for the general public to understand.

“Goddard helped build the James Webb space telescope which is said to launch in the 2020s and it is the most powerful telescope we’ve ever built,” Baldridge said. “It can see so far, it can see light so old, it’s near the beginnings of the universe. So we describe it not just as a telescope to people, we describe it as a time machine because it’s going to let us understand how the universe actually formed.”

The last time Joseph Johnson was a free man, the world was different.

It was 1994 – Bill Clinton was president, Michael Jordan was playing baseball, and The Lion King was the year’s highest-grossing movie.

Mimi Wright / KBIA

The numbers 48689 might seem just that—numbers.

But to Sonia Warshawski they are a reminder of all the suffering she has endured. They sit there, engraved in blue ink on her left arm, a symbol of the horrific events she experienced during the Holocaust.

Sonia recently recounted her story to students and members of the public at Hickman High School in Columbia. Of her family of five, only Sonia and her sister survived. Her mother, father and brother were all killed.

"I was liberated in Bergen-Belsen. And this was on the German soil," Warshawski said.

Kathryn Palmer / KBIA

It’s been three years since the nation watched student activist group Concerned Student 1950 protest structural racism at the University of Missouri. Many of the issues spotlighted then, such as MU’s perceived reluctance to acknowledge the history and contributions of people of color, still persist today. This can be traumatizing and invalidating for the 17 percent of non-white students on campus, especially when the modes of racism are invisible to their white peers. But two MU psychology doctoral candidates, Yoanna McDowell and Jonathan Ferguson, are working to alleviate that stress. 

Betsy Smith / KBIA

Columbia’s classical music scene is growing and thriving, thanks to Missouri Symphony director Kirk Trevor. But Trevor’s work doesn’t stop with professional musicians.

On a Monday night at Broadway Christian Church in Columbia, Kirk Trevor conducts an orchestra of about 30 elementary and middle school students. He is joined by two symphony member coaches and a handful of parents, eager to listen to their children play. The students are practicing for their next performance in two weeks.

Meiying Wu / KBIA

Amid a national teacher shortage, a wave of teachers’ strikes last spring spotlighted some of the ongoing problems for the teaching profession, such as low pay and limited classroom resources. On top of that, a recent poll found that for the first time since 1969, just over half of American parents don’t want their children to pursue a teaching career.

The Missouri Constitution prohibits teachers from striking, but just because they aren’t speaking out, doesn’t mean schools here don’t face many of those issues. With some of the lowest teacher salaries in the country, recruiting and retaining qualified teachers is a challenge, said Paul Katnik, assistant commissioner for educator quality at the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Two weeks ago, the Missouri state Legislature passed House Bill 3, which will create new policies to promote STEM education across the state.

STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and math. According to the Pew Research Center, STEM careers are some of the fastest-growing jobs in the country. Since 1990, employment in STEM occupations has grown 79 percent.

But in Missouri, there’s a supply problem.

Columbia Public Schools and Rock Bridge High School dedicated the renovation of the school’s football stadium last Friday.

The $6.4 million project was paid for with funds from a 2014 voter-approved bond issue and renovated the press box, concession stand, restrooms, bleachers and track. 

KBIA's Mitch Legan was there, and he sent an audio postcard from the Bruins' game against the Lee's Summit West Titans. 

Mitch Legan / KBIA

If you’ve visited downtown Columbia recently, you’ve probably seen them.

They’re big and they’re grey, with a white stripe down the front. And they’re not very fast – when they’re really flying, they top out at about 15 mph.

They’re Bird scooters, and they’re popping up in college towns across the U.S.


The electric rental scooters have been in town for the past three weeks after the company Bird Rides chose Columbia to be part of its “University Pop-Up Tour.”

University Staff Under Strain, Says Climate Survey

Oct 9, 2017
Adam Procter / Flickr

The University of Missouri conducted a campus climate survey about a year after the resignations of former MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin and former UM System President Tim Wolfe. Faculty, staff and students at the Columbia campus were asked questions about their experiences with discrimination, support from campus administration and overall work and study environment. Nearly ten thousand people responded. The results suggested a lack of institutional support for students and employees, especially hourly staff.

At a town hall held in mid-September to discuss the survey, MU Chancellor Alexander Cartwright said that the sub-par findings were not unexpected.


Columbia School Board
KBIA File Photo

A Missouri House bill that looked to expand charter school options across the state didn't make it through the Senate in May, but the issue of expanding charter schools in Missouri could return in future legislative sessions.

Right now, charter schools are allowed only in Kansas City, St. Louis, and under limited conditions in other parts of the state. Missouri House Bill 634 aimed to change that. It passed the House, but didn’t make it out of committee and to  a vote before the Missouri Senate adjourned. Legislators are free to pick up the issue again next session.

But what exactly is a charter school? 

Updated on Tuesday, January 10: The State Board of Education officially granted St. Louis Public Schools full accreditation, a key milestone for a district that's improved after years of struggle.

The state board gave unanimous approval to upgrade St. Louis Public Schools’ status from provisionally accredited to fully accredited. Officials with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education cited the district's rising test scores, improved attendance rates and fiscal stability as the reasons for recommending the change.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

  As another harvest season wraps up, Midwest farmers are once again facing low commodity prices amid enormous supplies. And when they recover from the long days bringing in the grain, they will eventually sit down with their books and try to figure out how best to farm again next year.