Knob Noster R-VIII School District students and faculty and educational, political and business leaders celebrated a milestone Thursday as the school was presented a $400,000 check from the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) to implement a college readiness program in the district.
The presentation took place Thursday morning at Whiteman Air Force Base. Two-thirds of Knob Noster’s student body have family members who are stationed at Whiteman, making the ties between the district and the base vital.
“The partnership that we have between the base and General Tibbets is amazing,” Knob Noster Assistant Superintendent Michael Cohron said. “This provides the district the opportunity to offer advanced placement classes for our students.
“We began the program at the beginning of the school year and we have 150 students enrolled in those advanced placement classes, which is phenomenal,” he added. “This provides such an excellent opportunity for our students and the community and (Knob Noster Superintendent Dr. Jerrod Wheeler) and all of us in the district are very grateful.”
Last year the district had no advanced placement offerings, a fact that Marcus Lingenfelter, senior vice president state and federal program at NIMS, pointed out in his remarks.
“To go from having zero advanced placement classes to seven is unprecedented,” Lingenfelter said. “The measure of our success is the success of our students enrolled in the program.
“This all started a quarter of a century ago and now there are more than 1,000 schools in 35 states that are part of the NIMS cohort,” he added. “Because of this program you and your generation has the opportunity to serve the STEM needs of the country; your state, families and communities need you.”
According to a press release, the program is designed to transform schools into centers of college readiness by providing extensive teacher training, Saturday study sessions, assistance with exam fees, classroom equipment and supplies and awards for achievement.
The program boosts Advanced Placement performance in partner schools by 10 times the national average, Lingenfelter added.
“High school today (for you as students) is much harder than it was for me when I was your age,” Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said during his presentation. “We now live in an instantaneous information age and all we can do is give you opportunities.
“If you are willing to work hard and challenge yourself you will succeed,” Nixon added. “You have been given unbelievable opportunities to do incredible things.”
Nixon remarked he is often asked what have been the major changes he has witnessed in his 30 years as an elected official. He replied that the greatest change has been the shift in the world’s economy in the information age.
“We are now competing worldwide where jobs can be anywhere,” Nixon said. “The best path to your future is your education.”
Missouri Commissioner of Education Dr. Margaret Vandeven also commented on the important of the NMSI program to the economic future.
“One of our goals in the Top 10 by 20 program is to see that all graduates are prepared and ready for post-secondary success when they graduate,” Vandeven said. “The cornerstone of jobs that will keep us strong are rooted in the NMSI coursework.
“We need to shift our focus from the question we ask our children of ‘what do you want to be?’ to ‘what problem do you want to solve today?’” she added.
Nixon ended his remarks by commenting that Thursday’s event marked a historic point for the Knob Noster School District, and the state.
“The state takes deep pride in Whiteman,” Nixon said. “The partnership (between NMSI and the Knob Noster School District) enhances and raises the game of the entire state.
“It is an opportunity for us to get tougher and better,” he added. “It is indeed a key point in our history.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484.