Kansas City, Mo. – When Jessie Kirksey started teaching first grade at Longfellow Elementary School in 1966, she couldn’t imagine she would spend the rest of her career in education, and she was bowled over by those who spent more than 10 years teaching.
Now in her forty-eighth year as an educator, Dr. Kirksey is a principal at John T. Hartman Elementary School and has never left the Kansas City Missouri School District. In fact, Dr. Kirksey is likely the district’s longest serving current staff member.
In nearly half of a century, she has learned more than a thing or two about urban education, although she insists that she doesn’t have all the answers and is “still in the process of becoming.”
This attitude embodies Dr. Kirksey’s approach to education, where students, teachers, parents and community members are all accepted and empowered as learners.
“No one rises to low expectations,” Kirksey said.
UMKC’s new Urban Education Research Center, which celebrated it’s official launch Oct. 29, 2013, hopes to work with local educators like Kirksey, who have found success in the often challenging environment of urban schools.