As a way to fill targeted teaching needs and reward hometown students who plan to become educators, Sedalia School District 200 has awarded its first scholarships under its Tiger Legacy program.

Smith-Cotton High School seniors Erika Tackett and Laura Haney are the inaugural recipients. Tiger Legacy, the district’s “Grow Your Own” program, encourages students who pursue education degrees in science, math and special education to come back to Sedalia 200 to teach for at least four years by providing them $2,000 per semester toward their bachelor’s degree. Tackett plans to pursue special education and Haney intends to become a freshmen math teacher.

Addressing the Sedalia 200 Board of Education during its May 13 meeting, Tackett said she will pursue an associate’s degree in Teaching at State Fair Community College, then attend the University of Central Missouri to get a bachelor’s degree in cross-categorical special education. “I’m very excited to have this opportunity,” she said.

Haney will attend the University of Central Missouri to attain a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education-Mathematics. She told the board: “I hope to come back to teach freshmen math … then take a gap year and return to school to get a master’s in counseling degree to become a high school counselor."

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Nancy Scott led the committee that launched the Tiger Legacy program and interviewed the students who applied for the scholarships.
“We know that teachers who have ties to a community are more likely to put down roots and stay. Through Tiger Legacy, we aim to identify high-quality students who show the promise of becoming high-quality teachers for our district,” Scott said. “We are confident our investment in Erika’s and Laura’s educations will result in positive outcomes for them, our district and the students they eventually will teach.”

In the  photo: Smith-Cotton High School seniors Erika Tackett, front left, and Laura Haney, front right, are joined by family members after being acknowledged by the Sedalia 200 Board of Education as the first Tiger Legacy scholarship recipients. With Tackett are her mother, Claraisse Tackett; and father, Raymond Tackett; with Haney are her father, Jim Haney; mother, Angela Walls; and grandmother Jean Haney.