What does your work entail at The Educator Academy?
My whole role as Senior Member Success Advocate is to be a champion and advocate for our people and do that in a way that isn’t just centered on academic or certification outcomes. It is really responsive to what our people’s needs are, so that looks a lot of different ways. I also co-lead a Member Support Committee, and we focus on some of the social elements of our wellness and, and giving people spaces to celebrate and enjoy themselves. So, essentially I get to do all of the outside-of-the-classroom support work and I really love it.
Why does “whole person care” matter when it comes to teaching?
It’s one of those cliches that is true that you can’t pour from an empty cup. You have to maintain your own wellness in order to participate in the wellness of others. And so we’re big supporters of mental health support for everyone.
Teachers are not just here to just teach kids content, we’re here to help develop little humans in a culturally and emotionally responsive way. We firmly believe that we have to practice what we preach. If we are asking people to go into a classroom and serve our children in a culturally and emotionally responsive way, then we also need to be culturally and emotionally responsive to the teachers that we are developing. We have to recognize that people are more than just a test score or a certification; they are a whole person and we need whole-person wellness in order to really serve our kids.
What supports are offered to Residents?
There are a few main buckets of support that we offer: classroom support, financial supports, and mental health & wellness supports.
- Stipend: As an AmeriCorps members, our Residents receive a $20,000 living stipend.
- Support funds: We know that living on a $20,000 living stipend can be a challenge. If an emergency comes up, what do you do? One thing that we’ve been able to secure for our Residents is a support fund. We have this fund available so that if an accident or unexpected life event happens, there’s a safety net for our people. We don’t want these random events to count them out of the profession, so this fund has been really helpful for our people. From our survey data of recipients, 100% of Residents who received support funds have said they agree or strongly agree that it has kept them in the The Educator Academy Program and 100% agreed or strongly agreed that the funds alleviated stress immensely.
- Scholarship opportunities: As students of UMKC, all Residents are eligible for federal student aid and UMKC student scholarships. For Residents who identify as Black, we have a scholarship through the Black Educator Initiative.
- AmeriCorps Benefits: outside of the stipend there are other financial benefits connected to AmeriCorps including child care services, Segal AmeriCorps Education Award, and access to health insurance.
We offer a wide variety of support to our teachers in the classroom to ensure that they are developing into highly effective teachers in the classroom. Our coaches provide personalized coaching support to ensure individuals are prepared and equipped to succeed in the classroom.
Mental health supports:
We have a partnership with a local counseling office that offers affordable counseling. We also provide a wellness fund that allows our Residents to receive funds in order to access services like mental health offices, a gym, or other services they might need. We’re also working on some pilot programs for other mental health supports that we are really excited about.
Another practice that we’ve started this year is an experience check-in. This is a space where I come to your school and just check in. We’re not here to talk about your next steps forward, we’re not here to talk about your goals, we’re just able to be a sounding board for how you are doing. It’s very centered on our members and what their needs are. We’re processing their experiences, giving voice to their experiences, and validation to their experiences. It doesn’t replace mental health support, but it is a way to coach through life as a Resident in The Educator Academy, and that support has been really effective this year. We have lots of Residents who choose to engage in that.