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Two Ritenour High School Future Teachers Become First Recipients of Grow Your Own Scholarships

Kayla Anne Baker   Darleen Garcia

Kayla Anne Baker (left) and Darleen Garcia, two Ritenour High School 2021 graduates, made history as they became the school's first Grow Your Own scholarship recipients to become teachers who will serve their home district after college.

Both graduates will attend Saint Louis University’s (SLU) School of Education on a full scholarship thanks to the university and the Ritenour Pride & Promise Foundation. Ritenour and SLU partnered together for the state’s Grow Your Own program, which focuses on developing and recruiting teachers from home districts so they later return to their districts as teachers.

Both RHS seniors were surprised on a Zoom call with Ritenour and SLU leaders on May 13, 2021 with the announcement that they received the scholarships.

“We have been working on formalizing the Grow Your Own program over the past two years because we know we have great students who will become phenomenal teachers who have a vested interest in serving their community,” said Superintendent Dr. Chris Kilbride. “We want to support and encourage our own students to come back and re-join our family as teachers, and I couldn’t think of a better pair of students who will start this legacy. It has been wonderful to see them grow into amazing young, bright, talented young women who I know will become excellent teachers and role models for our students."

Baker plans to return to Ritenour High School as a teacher; Garcia plans to become an elementary teacher. While at SLU, they will have teacher mentors from Ritenour who will provide professional and moral support, and help them navigate the teacher certification process.

Baker said she was overwhelmed by learning she received a full scholarship to SLU.

 “I knew SLU was the perfect fit for me, and am endlessly thankful for this opportunity,” said Baker. “I have really enjoyed being a part of this community, and I can’t wait to continue my time here in St. Louis — both at SLU, and as an educator with Ritenour.”

Garcia also is excited about her future. “I’m really looking forward to being at SLU and then coming back and being a teacher for younger children.”

Beth Davey, music teacher at Iveland Elementary and 2017-2018 Missouri Teacher of the Year, has been instrumental in developing the Grow Your Own program with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.