Kayla Colona, a 2015 Bachelor of Educational Studies graduate, first heard about Mission: St. Louis during an agency fair at UMSL. Now, she serves as the organization’s volunteer coordinator for the Beyond School program. (Photo by August Jennewein)
Kayla Colona had an awesome first-grade teacher. So exceptional, in fact, that growing up in south St. Louis County, Colona couldn’t think of a better way to spend her life than replicating that experience for schoolchildren to come.
She went to the University of Missouri–St. Louis with the clear aim of becoming an elementary school teacher.
“I was going to be a traditional teacher in a classroom,” Colona said. “That is not what I am doing, at all.”
She discovered something she likes even better at an agency fair at UMSL. That’s where she first heard about Mission: St. Louis and its Beyond School program.
Colona volunteered as a class requirement, then stayed on after she had fulfilled her assignment. After she graduated from UMSL with a Bachelor of Educational Studies in 2015, she came back to Mission: St. Louis on a part-time basis while doing a year of service with AmeriCorps. Last year, she was hired as Beyond School’s full-time volunteer coordinator.
“I just loved it and fell in love with the students I was working with,” Colona said. “The values and just the staff in general at Mission: St. Louis, every single person there is so passionate about revitalizing St. Louis. They believe in it. They believe in the people of St. Louis. I think that’s super cool, and I want to be a part of that.”
Mission: St. Louis takes a three-pronged approach to helping transform “lives, families and neighborhoods” of traditionally underserved people in the city. The Beyond School program provides an expanded learning opportunity for students to help raise their math and reading …