Kyle Palmer | KCUR

Kyle Palmer

Morning Newscaster, Reporter

Kyle Palmer is KCUR’s morning newscaster. He’s a former teacher, so getting up early is nothing for him. Before moving to the classroom, Kyle earned a Journalism degree from Mizzou and worked as a reporter for Columbia’s NPR affiliate KBIA. He also did play-by-play for the Jefferson City High School football and basketball teams. He earned a national Edward R. Murrow Award for a radio documentary about Missouri’s New Madrid fault (it’s still there, people, and ready to blow!).

He’s lived in Texas, California, and India, and also earned a Master’s degree in Education Policy from Stanford University, where he was also the PA announcer for the women’s and men’s volleyball team. (Ask him anything about volleyball.) 

He now lives in Kansas with his wife. And they agree: of all the places they’ve lived, Kansas is the most…interesting.

Ways to Connect

Kansas City police are investigating a shooting that took the lives of three people Tuesday night in south Kansas City, one of them an infant. This is the fourth deadly shooting in the city in the past week.

Kyle Palmer / KCUR

Mike Besler is a former Kansas state high school champion quarterback and a member of the Blue Valley West High School Hall of Fame. But he still needs a coach. 

"When I first heard, I was kind of like, 'I want my own space.' But now that I've seen how resourceful it is, it's made a world of difference," Besler says. 

Courtesy photo / Kansas State University

Critics say the Kansas State University marching band put a Kansas Jayhawk in a compromised position during halftime of the Wildcats' season opener Saturday. (Decide for yourself here.)

The band performed a 'space'-themed show and at one point began playing music from Star Trek. One half of the band formed what looked like a Jayhawk; the other half formed what any Trekkie would recognize as the Starship Enterprise. Then, the two formations started coming towards each other, causing the uproar.

The700level.com / Flickr-CC

Fans of the NBA are mourning the death of Darryl Dawkins, the man known to many fans (and himself) as 'Chocolate Thunder.' Dawkins played 14 seasons in the NBA in the 1970s and 1980s, playing for Philadelphia, New Jersey, Utah and Detroit.

He died Thursday of an apparent heart attack in Allentown, Pennsylvania. He was 58.

Julia Szabo / KCUR

Name: Kelly Ott

Number of Years In Education: 18

Role: Director of Professional Development (Blue Valley Public Schools)

 Kelly Ott is a second career teacher who came to the profession with the goal of leaving a positive footprint. After graduating from college with International Business and French degrees she worked in the fashion industry in Paris, but she knew she wanted more...

Kelly spoke with some of her colleagues about this shift. 

Brad Wilson / Flickr-CC

Lawmakers on the State Finance Council meet Monday in Topeka to determine how much money nearly 40 public school districts in Kansas will get from the state's extraordinary needs fund.

Here are some questions you may have, answered by KCUR's education reporter Sam Zeff. 

1. Kansas has an 'extraordinary needs' fund? What is that?

Kyle Palmer / KCUR

Many veteran teachers speak of a time earlier in their careers when they doubted their choice to teach. 

"It was actually one of my first days teaching kindergarten," says Julie Wilson, who now directs the state-run teaching jobs board kansasteachingjobs.com

"I had to get them lined up for a fire drill, and it was such a mess that by the time I got them out to the playground I was in tears. And I was like, 'What have I done? How am I ever going to teach them if I can't get them to line up?'" 

They may not be shocking but the numbers are still illuminating. 

In Kansas City Public Schools, 19 percent of teachers are in their first year on the job. And 17 percent do not have the correct certification. These are the highest proportions of any district in the state. That's according to data compiled by the U.S. Department of Education. 

Kyle Palmer / KCUR

Kansas City's newest charter high school opened Wednesday. Well, not totally new. 

The Ewing Marion Kauffman School has been on the Kansas City charter landscape for four years now.

It opened in 2011 with a lone fifth-grade class and gradually expanded, adding a grade each year. Now, the school is opening a brand new building on its campus near 63rd Street and Paseo Boulevard.

And that original fifth-grade class will become Kauffman's first set of ninth-graders. 

Let's start this story with a big disclaimer: the Common Core-aligned tests Missouri students took this year are a one-time deal that cannot be compared to either what came before or what will come after.

Kyle Palmer / KCUR

This story was rebroadcast as part of our best-of 2015 series. It was originally reported in August 2015.     

Grandview Public Schools is a statistical anomaly in the Kansas City metro.

On average, teachers in Grandview have 15 years experience, which is on par with suburban districts like Blue Valley and Lee's Summit. Likewise, the district's proportion of new teachers (those with five years experience or less) is also small: less than 20 percent, compared to a metro-wide average of nearly 30 percent. 

Around the Kansas City metro, there are roughly 20,000 public school teachers in more than 50 districts and charter schools, teaching more than 300,000 students. 

Broadly speaking, the metro reflects statewide trends in both Kansas and Missouri that show teachers are steadily getting younger and less experienced. Both states have two of the youngest, least experienced teacher workforces in the country, according to the most recent federal data. 

Julia Szabo / KCUR

Name: Susana Ozaeta
Number of years teaching: 1
Grade: 6th
School: Gladstone Elementary, Kansas City Public Schools

"Their eyes lit up when they knew I was from the neighborhood." 

Susana Ozaeta grew up in Northeast Kansas City. As a child of immigrants she saw how uncomfortable her Spanish-speaking mother felt at her school.

Kyle Palmer / KCUR

The front line of the nation's generational shift in teaching may be Kansas City, Missouri. 

Around the metro area  — made up of more than 50 districts and charter schools in both Kansas and Missouri — tens of thousands of students are returning to school this week. And they will be taught by a teacher force that is one of the youngest, least experienced in the nation.

Kyle Palmer / KCUR

St. Teresa's Academy, a 150-year old private Catholic all-girls school in Kansas City's Brookside neighborhood, is trying to cut financial ties with one-time donor Tim Coppinger. 

Last month, the Federal Trade Commission accused Coppinger of defrauding low-income customers of millions of dollars in a payday lending scam. The FTC's injunction accuses Coppinger and another payday lender Frampton Rowland, III, of using the information of loan applicants to "deposit money into the applicants' accounts without permission...then withdraw reoccurring finance charges without any of the payments going to pay down the principal owed". 

KT Kind / Flickr-CC

A persistent teacher shortage remains in Kansas, just two weeks before students start returning for the new school year. 

According to the state-run Kansas Education Employment Board, there were 466 open positions at Kansas schools as of Monday. Of the openings, 236 were for certified teachers. The other openings were for administrators, support staff and other positions. 

dcJohn / Flickr--CC

With the start of school less than three weeks away, thousands of Kansas public school teachers are without contracts for the coming year. But one major Johnson County district is getting close.

While Shawnee Mission, Olathe, and Kansas City, Kansas are all still in contract negotiations, Blue Valley officials say a "tentative proposed agreement" has been forwarded to the district's teachers for approval.

Kyle Palmer / KCUR

Ask Kansas Citians of a certain generation, “Where were you the night the skywalk collapsed?” and they will give you an immediate answer.

Thirty-four years on and the memories of that night are still fresh for many.

Kyle Palmer / KCUR

Three days before the Fourth of July, Nelson Muller drove with his wife and four children — ages 3 to 11 — from Columbia, Missouri, to Kansas City.

They were going to his mother’s home in Gladstone, Missouri, for the holiday.

Keith Allison / Flickr--CC

For years, many Kansas City Royals fans have called themselves "Gordo Nation" after All-Star left fielder Alex Gordon.

Well, Gordo Nation is in mourning.

Take this tweet from Wednesday night — after the popular player left a game against the Tampa Bay Rays with a groin injury — as evidence:

Courtesy Photo / Kansas City Police Department

 

Updated, 2:15 p.m. Wednesday: Police officers are still searching for a man suspected of  shooting a 46-year-old woman and her teenage daughter Tuesday morning.

A Kansas City Police Department spokeswoman said officers were investigating a residence near 103rd Street and North Virginia Avenue in the Northland, close to where the shooting occurred.

The spokeswoman confirmed police were searching a different house than the one where the two victims were found.

Victims Michelle and Reagan Class remained in critical condition.

The Overland Park Police Department confirmed Tuesday morning that investigators are looking into possible connections between two deadly shootings that have occurred on the same street over the past week.

A shooting last night on 61st Terrace left a woman in her 30s dead and an 11-year old girl with non-life threatening injuries. Witnesses reported seeing a man repeatedly shoot a semiautomatic rifle into a duplex. Nine people were inside the duplex at the time of the shooting.

Hillary Clinton will make her first visit to Kansas City as a 2016 presidential candidate later this month. The presumptive Democratic front-runner will speak at the National Council of La Raza's annual convention on  July 13. 

NCLR President Janet Murguia, a University of Kansas graduate, said thousands of Latino leaders and activists will be on hand to hear Clinton's address. 

The conference will be held at the Kansas City Convention Center from July 11-14. 

Kauffman Foundation

A new teacher training program in Kansas City hopes to mimic the medical residency training model in order to draw talented educators into the profession and keep them in the classroom long-term. 

The Kansas City Teacher Residency will place new teachers — or "residents" — in a one-year apprenticeship in a high-needs city school. Each new teacher will get intensive one-on-one coaching from a master teacher acting as a full-time mentor. 

"This is what we know sets teachers up for success," says Aaron North, vice president of education for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. "Being observed, getting feedback, having that opportunity to make those adjustments with an experienced educator guiding and mentoring you." 

North says it will give the new teachers of the program a chance to "hone their craft" as they learn how to teach. They will also take graduate-level courses while they work in schools. 

Kyle Palmer / KCUR

Many teachers enjoy their summers on a beach or some other far-flung vacation spot. But a small group of Kansas City educators has traded relaxation for innovation. 

The Lean Lab, based at Kansas City's Sprint Accelerator, recently launched its second cohort of "Incubator Fellows". The group of eight--six teachers, one UMKC student, and one tech entrepreneur--will spend four weeks this summer developing solutions to problems they find in Kansas City education. 

Kyle Palmer / KCUR

Who says teaching doesn't pay? 

Probably not Libbi Sparks. The Independence high school teacher recently cashed in a career's worth of math lessons to the tune of $30,000. 

Sparks teaches math at William Chrisman High School in Independence, Missouri, and has nearly three decades of experience teaching in public schools.

She's taught everything from middle school pre-algebra to dual-credit Calculus II. In 2012, she earned prestigious National Board certification. 

In other words, she knows what she is doing. 

Johnson County Manager Hannes Zacharias says all he will do Thursday is “carry the clipboard” from county agencies to the county commission as they request funding for the prospective 2016 county budget.  

In reality, the numbers on that clipboard will have a big impact on the pace and breadth of improvements proposed for both county parks and libraries.

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