2019 GYOT recipients
Meet this year's Grow Your Own Teachers
Posted on 12/03/2019
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For 14 years the Fort Zumwalt Education Foundation has provided the Grow Your Own Teacher Award to selected graduating seniors interested in teaching in high-need areas. Monday, Dec. 2, the foundation recognized Kylie Avery (left) and Sara Norris (right), winners of the 2019 award, which provides $4,000 per semester for eight semesters to selected students.

South High’s Avery is a member of the softball and swim teams. While she has yet to decide on a school, she knows she wants to teach upper level math. 

GYOT winners with cake“Not only is Kylie a brilliant individual, but she quite possibly is one of the most personable and well-liked students on our campus,” South High Principal Dr. Kevin Keltner says. “She has a maturity you seldom see in people her age. We can’t wait to have her back as a teacher in Fort Zumwalt, hopefully at South High School!”

West High’s Norris will attend UMSL and study elementary special education. She visits the special education classroom of Kelsie Ballmann twice a week to work with Ballmann, who was one of the first Fort Zumwalt students to complete the GYOT program, and her students. 

“Sara is a rare combination of intelligence, compassion, excitement and zeal for education and life,” West High Principal Neil Berry says. “We are all excited for her to bring all of that into a classroom in our school district.”

The no-interest, forgivable loan can be used at any Missouri university. Students must be working toward their degree in education and toward becoming a certified teacher in one of the following high-need areas: special education, foreign language, industrial technology, secondary science or secondary math. Upon graduation, GYOT winners return to teach in Fort Zumwalt School District. The no-interest loan is forgiven once the student completes their fourth year of teaching within Fort Zumwalt.

Currently 12 FZSD alum have completed the program and are teaching in the district, including Ballmann, the 2019 FZSD Teacher of the Year. Another eight students are participating in the program, which has become a model for districts across the state. Foundation funds are provided through employee payroll deduction and other donations, as well as through an annual golf tournament, 5K/fun run and other events.

Learn more about the Foundation.