Smith-Cotton Junior High students got to experience a day in the life of an elementary school teacher on Tuesday, Feb. 5, as part of the Sedalia 200 District’s Grow Your Own teaching initiative.

The Grow Your Own program is aimed at identifying students who are interested in teaching careers, then providing them support and opportunities that would bring them back to become educators in the district. The Educator for the Day exercise is a way to help junior high students determine if teaching is the right career field for them.

“It's never too early to start thinking about your future,” said SCJH counselor Rebecca Moss. “At the junior high level, we focus on career exploration and educating students on career opportunities. The Educator for the Day is just one avenue for students to explore as a possible career choice. This hands-on opportunity allows students to be on the front line of education and see what it means to be an educator."

Seventh grader Deacon Lipsmeyer spent the day with Washington Elementary second grade teacher Mary Houston and her students. Lipsmeyer intends to become a junior high teacher.

“I’ve always had an interest in teaching because I have always had a love for working with children,” said Lipsmeyer. ”I want to be the type of person who can make an impact on someone else’s life."

In discussing his career aspirations, Lipsmeyer cited the influence of educators including Sedalia Middle School math teacher Stacy Kuehner.

“She did a really good job explaining topics and teaching us how to do it,” he said.

Also at Washington was eighth grader Lauren Grupe, who worked with teacher Brittany Thompson and her first graders.

“I like working with kids. I am more interested in going into medical (fields), but it was nice to open my eyes to this,” said Grupe, who encouraged other students to become Educators for the Day. “I’ve talked with some of (her fellow students) here and they are saying how much they love this and they are really into teaching now.”

As a teacher, Houston sees plenty of positives in getting the next generation into the classroom early.

“I think it helps them understand what we do on a daily basis and to see it from a teacher’s perspective,” she said.

Lipsmeyer also said the experience was worthwhile.

“I have enjoyed working with the teachers a lot and I have enjoyed talking to the students,” he said. “I have learned that there are some really interesting jobs outside of teaching inside of a school, like counselors and librarians.”

PIC 1: Deacon Lipsmeyer, a seventh grader at Smith-Cotton Junior High, celebrates a correct answer with second graders Jose Rodriguez, right, and Madison Billaci, center, during a math lesson Tuesday, Feb. 5, in teacher Mary Houston's classroom at Washington Elementary School. Lipsmeyer spent the day shadowing Houston as part of the Educator for the Day program.

PIC2: With first grade classmate Daniel Cooper, right, looking on, Abel Owen Savage, center, challenges eighth grader Lauren Grupe to shoot at the basket Tuesday, Feb. 5, in the Washington Elementary School gymnasium. Grupe was shadowing teacher Brittany Thompson for the day.

Sedalia School District 200