Centre College is known for sending its graduates to participate in Teach Kentucky, a Louisville-based non-profit committed to facilitating the launch of careers in education. The College has a total of 18 alumni who are currently teaching in the greater-Louisville area through the organization.
“At a pragmatic level, we provide the essential connective tissue for a recent college graduate, without a teaching certificate, to gain admission to an alternative certification master’s program and get a teaching position with a local school district,” said Rowan Claypool, founder and president of Teach Kentucky. “At the socio-economic level, we offer so much more. We create a community of educators deeply committed to refining their craft, developing their careers and putting down roots in our city.”
Teach Kentucky has been working with Centre graduates for over 15 years. Krista Mornar ’04 and Nate Jebsen ’03, who were a part of the earliest cohorts, were recently promoted in their schools. Mornar was appointed head principal at Centerfield Elementary in Oldham County, and Jebsen is now an assistant principal in Shelby County.
Aubrey Holle ’12 joined the program following graduation and coached two sports teams while also teaching science at Western High School, a consistently low-performing school in Louisville. One her students and players on her teams, who was primarily inspired by Holle’s example, is now participating in their first year with Teach Kentucky.
Claypool said that examples like this are the reason why the College needs to be represented in the “rough and tumble” of urban education in Kentucky, “because Centre graduates change lives.”
“Centre alumni are our largest group of new teachers,” Claypool continued. “Twenty-seven Centre grads have been in Teach Kentucky and 18 are still teaching in Kentucky classrooms. With only a few exceptions, our Centre participants have fulfilled their two-year commitment and the vast majority have moved beyond into their third year of more.”
Claypool added that Centre graduates are always well-prepared academically when they enter into teaching and have a strong work ethic.
Sam Gruber ’17 graduated from the College with a degree in history and went on to participate in Teach Kentucky at Oldham County High School.
“I realized pretty late that I wanted to become a teacher,” Gruber said. “I didn’t really know how the process worked to become a teacher, so I began asking questions of people whom I knew had become teachers, and they mentioned the Teach Kentucky program as a way for me to join a community of people who were in the same boat as me.”
Having been in the program since the summer of 2017, Gruber said he is thankful for what the program has done to help him start teaching.
Samantha Aguiar ’16, who currently teaches freshman algebra at Southern High School, has participated in the program for three years and sees herself continuing in the years to come.
“Teach Kentucky has provided me with a supportive community, especially during my first year of teaching,” Aguiar said. “I was alternatively certified, which means I never student taught or stepped foot in a classroom before my very first day of teaching. It’s a very hard path for people to take, but with Teach Kentucky, everyone has taken this path and was willing to help out. After going through the roughest year of my life, I was so glad that I was a part of a program with these extremely dedicated and strong individuals. I continue my involvement to give back to this amazing program that has allowed me to help a difficult population of students.”
Aguiar’s Centre experience helped broaden her culture competency, as she was lucky enough to study abroad three times in Ecuador, Guatemala and London. She said these opportunities allowed her to learn about different cultures and how to better react to various situations in the classroom.
“Centre is at the heart of high-quality liberal arts education in Kentucky,” Claypool added. “Therefore, I believe, it has to take a leadership role in Kentucky public education. We need the exceptional academic and intellectual values of a Centre education brought into public schools in our commonwealth in order to ensure that all Kentuckians have access to high-quality educational opportunities.
“We enjoy such a rich tradition with Centre,” he concluded. “Centre is the linchpin of our recruitment efforts. Each year we depend on another inspiring group of Centre grads to solidify our new cohort.”
by Kerry Steinhofer
March 8, 2019