Three high schoolers receive full ride to college via teaching internship

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COLUMBIA - Three Columbia Public School graduates are off to college on full scholarships, following their participation in a teaching internship program aimed at increasing diversity among CPS teachers and creating a pipeline of educators for the community.

The Educational Exploration Intern Program, or EdX, provides up to 20 CPS high schoolers of color with a $10 per hour summer job working in classrooms with minority teachers. During the program, interns receive hands on classroom experience working with students and assisting in the creation of lesson plans. Students that complete the internship program are then eligible to apply for the EdX scholarship, which provides the students who look to pursue a career as an educator with a full ride to college in exchange for four years of CPS service after graduation.

This year marks the first graduating class of EdX interns from high school, and coordinator and mentor of the program, Nicolle Adair, said she is pleased with the program's direction.

"Only up," Adair said. "I think anytime you have an opportunity to take students, in particular students who are of color, and provide them an opportunity, I think that we all become better when we are surrounded by environments that culturally competent and that there is diversity in the classroom."

Tyrus Monroe, Consolee Mbabazi and Nautica Varnum are this years scholarship recipients. All three women will attend college in Columbia.

Attending Stephens College, Varnum is working toward being a first or second grade teacher.

"When I heard about the internship, I was like 'oh maybe I could be a teacher,'" Varnum said. "And so I got the internship and then after ended I was really happy with how it went and I could totally see myself being a teacher."

Monroe and Mbabazi will attend Columbia College. Both women said they did not see much diversity in the CPS system growing up and are hopeful to be apart of that change.

"Growing up here in Columbia, I didn't see a lot of minority teachers, or teachers that looked like me, so being able to an example for other younger ones is definitely something that I am excited for," Mbabazi said.

"We are a very diverse community, but I also feel like that diversity is kind of hidden almost," Monroe said. "I think that to make everybody feel more comfortable and everybody feel included you need that diversity to be something that is spread around."

Adair said she is confident in the ability of these women to help change the teaching landscape in the Columbia.

"They are all so  driven and passionate," Adair said."I think it is a win win for everyone when we look at students who are interested in becoming teachers who are really kind of grown out of their own district."

For more information on the EdX program, click here.

(Ayesha Vishnani contributed to this report.)

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