Grow Your Own Teacher: Returning to Fort Zumwalt

Robin Aston's experience with "Grow Your Own Teacher" Program as she prepares to start her first year of teaching in the Fort Zumwalt District.

With a new school year around the corner a new chapter of my education begins. This August I will begin the journey as a first year teacher. For many college graduates finding the prefect job right after graduation is scary but rewarding. Fortunately, I feel blessed and excited to know that the stress of finding a job after college was decided when I was still a senior in high school! Unlike many high school students I was not only thinking about what college to attend, but instead I was signing a contract to come back to work for at Fort Zumwalt for four year through a program called the Grow Your Own Teacher (GYOT).


The GYOT Program provided financial assistance in order for me to complete my undergraduate degree in teaching for a high needs area. Which four years later here I am, with a Bachelor of Science in Education in one hand and my teaching certification in the other. And throughout those four years I received $3,000 per semester from GYOT. The program raises donations through a variety of events such as the Taste of Fort Zumwalt in the fall and the Fort Zumwalt Education Foundation Golf Tournament in the spring. However, the majority of their contributions are due to the support of employees in the district.


Aside from financial support the district provides GYOT participants with a great support system. I attended seminars and meeting where I met the other participants, teachers within the district, and informed others of the program. In addition, the committee pairs each GYOT with a mentor, somebody they could go to if they had questions or needed anything.


Overall, the program provided insight on what it means to be an effective teacher. It also has shown me employees within the district have faith in their own graduates just as every teacher should have for their students. The program has taught me to be reflective and step out if the box in order to see my students succeed, and as a first year teacher may be something challenging. However, with everything they have helped me with I feel prepare and ready to step foot in front of my students.


Lastly, I know if this program did not exist or I was not selected I would still be preparing to enter the classroom teaching just the same as I am today. I know this because it is the place I belong, where I feel I am most needed. I have wanted to be a teacher for as long as I could remember. When I was in middle school and high school I would help my siblings with their homework because I enjoyed helping even though it wasn’t always easy. I never gave up when they would say it was too hard or frustrating, just as many great teachers I had never gave up on me.


So for teaching in my former district is like returning home to a loving and supportive family and without them I would not have grown to be who I am today. And I am ready to get started with my first year at Fort Zumwalt North High.


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Heidi L. August 01, 2012 at 12:47 AM
Great idea! Hiring Alumni is an impressive means of showing support of the current teaching staff and also inspires a certain loyalty and pride in those new teachers.


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