“The two most critical components of educating a child in the state of Nebraska are teachers and principals, and the University of Nebraska at Kearney is paramount in those areas.”
– Kent Edwards, Kearney Public Schools
By TYLER ELLYSON
KEARNEY – Kearney Public Schools Superintendent Kent Edwards knows his district has an advantage when it comes to teacher recruitment.
He doesn’t need to look far to find a program that produces about 250 candidates a year.
“UNK recruits teachers for us,” Edwards said while discussing the mutually beneficial relationship between KPS and the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
The educational systems support each other. UNK students gain real-world experience in KPS classrooms through collaborations that begin long before it’s time to student teach and KPS has easy access to a talent pool that fills a majority of the district’s positions.
“The bulk of our hires come from the University of Nebraska at Kearney,” Edwards said. “They’re well-prepared and very familiar with the diverse clientele they’ll serve in the classroom.”
More than 70% of KPS teachers – 262 of 362 – have earned at least one degree from UNK, according to 2017-18 figures from the Nebraska Department of Education.
Edwards, an Osmond native and UNK graduate, believes that statistic favors KPS at a time when many Nebraska school districts struggle to find qualified applicants for certain positions.
“The two most critical components of educating a child in the state of Nebraska are teachers and principals, and the University of Nebraska at Kearney is paramount in those areas,” he said, noting that UNK produces a well-rounded educator who can meet a student’s intellectual and emotional needs and handle all the demands of a modern classroom.
“Teachers need to be even more equipped than they’ve ever been,” Edwards said. “It’s a much different student sitting in our classrooms today, and I think the UNK teacher preparation programs are keenly aware of that.”
Edwards, the KPS superintendent since summer 2016, previously served as assistant principal at Kearney High School from 1992-95 before spending two decades as a school administrator in Georgia. He’s glad to be back in a district with so many fellow Lopers walking the halls.
“I’ve had some exposure to a vast number of teacher preparation programs,” Edwards said. “And UNK’s is second to none in my opinion.”