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St. Louis Program Helps Make College More Affordable for Low-Income Students

The College Summit program in St. Louis Missouri helps low income students turn their dreams of college into reality. In this interview, teacher Brian Kruger describes how the program transformed the school, his students and his own life.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    You studied business education, you were going to teach business, so how did you end up here?

  • BRIAN KRUGER:

    Well interesting story, um, although my degree was in business, my undergraduate degree, I really wanted to teach elementary education. But I knew it was going to take me so many classes to go back and get an elementary education degree, um, I find out its so much less expensive and time consuming to get the business education degree.

    So about the time I was assigned to start student teaching, I had it all lined up in my mind I was going to do six, I'm sorry, 8 weeks of student teaching at a well to do, what I would call a well to do public school out in the west county suburbs and I was going to do another 8 weeks at a Catholic high school.

    The last place I ever thought about student teaching was Roosevelt High. In the meantime I got a call and this was mid-November, asking me if I was willing to come teach at Roosevelt High? I said, now you understand I don't have a teaching certification. They said that's not a problem. We can get you temporarily certified.

    So from a teacher's standpoint I got the best of all worlds. I got a full-time teaching position, I got a full-time paycheck but I got my certification. I'm one of few people who actually got paid to do student teaching, so that's how I ended up here. I thought I would put in my time and then leave but I came here, fell in love with it and here I am five years later.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    You were saying when this process starting Roosevelt High was probably the last place you thought you would end up teaching. Why did you think that?

  • BRIAN KRUGER:

    There's so much turmoil in the St. Louis Public Schools at the time. They were talking about another superintendent change, there was infighting between the school board members, the community, the superintendent, the teachers union, the teachers union was talking about going on strike, that was one of the biggest reasons why I really had no desire to teach in the city. I didn't want to go someplace, start my career and be on the picket line within a week or two.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And, and was there something about this school, this area, this geographic area that made you think I'm probably not going to end up there?

  • BRIAN KRUGER:

    Well it was further away from home than I thought, but to be honest I didn't think that I would be a good fit for this urban environment. It is 180 degrees from where I grew up. I grew up small town Nebraska where the only diversity was male/female, young/old, there was you know you didn't have the nationality, the ethnicity, the color. There was just no diversity so I didn't know if these students would even react to me, respond to me. I thought I would stick up, stick out like a square peg in a round hole and I just didn't know if I would fit, but well lo and behold I found out that the, you know the old saying the kids really just want to know that you care about them and that you're there and they've just been wonderful. I just love every one of them.