WCPS celebrates first locally recruited teacher from ‘Grow Our Own’ program

NEWARK, Md. – It’s a story of a lifelong dream coming full circle. A young lady now getting a chance to follow in her family’s footsteps.

It’s all thanks to a program called Grow Our Own — a program that identifies minority high school students interested in pursuing a teaching career right in their hometown.

“I want children to see themselves in me, especially little girls who look like me,” exclaims Maya Batson.

Which is exactly what Batson hopes will happen as the newest teacher for Worcester County Public Schools. She’s a soon to be Salisbury University graduate who’s sticking to her roots.

“I know nothing but education. My family has been involved in the schools — my mom works at a high school, my dad was an educator for a very long time, so school is all I know. When I grew up that’s what I wanted to be.

Batson is the first locally recruited educator to come out of Worcester County Public Schools’ Grow Our Own program. It’s a program designed to employ minority teachers born and raised right here on the shore.

“We want to make sure we have minority teachers in front of our students. It is really important that students see themselves in their teachers, in their careers,” says Shirleen Church, WCPS Coordinator for Minority Student Achievement.

That’s why they are recruiting students like Batson who show the desire to become teachers by giving them resources and support to come back to their community and teach.

“I’ve been provided with mentorship opportunities, professional development opportunities, and that’s really driven me to be where I am today and I’m very thankful for the opportunity.”

An opportunity that is giving her a voice and a chance to inspire.

“Children from small towns almost don’t see themselves in the bigger picture. They don’t see themselves as being educators or being business leaders at big firms so to be able to come back and show them you can do it too, that is what I’m here for.”

And while Batson is just months away from living out her childhood dream, she also is one step closer to keeping her late father’s legacy alive.

“I’m picking up where my father left off and that’s what I plan to do, you know, he wasn’t finished on his journey in education, but I am here to finish it for him.”

Batson’s father was a beloved band teacher at Pocomoke High School until he passed away in a car accident.  And although Batson won’t be teaching music like her dad, she says plans to take his same loving approach into her classrooms.

Grow Our Own tells us in the future they hope even more students follow Maya’s footsteps. Right now they have about 15 students currently in the program from all three high schools and and expecting two candidates to come out of the program next year.

Categories: Check It Out, Education, Maryland