Pittsburg professionals discuss human trafficking


PITTSBURG, Kan. — A human trafficking specialist gives a lesson to local human resource professionals.

Today at noon, the Crawford County Mental Health Center hosted a lunch to talk about human trafficking in the workplace. The lunch featured speaker Adah Hutchcraft, Spiritual Care Specialist, from Ascension Via Christi.   Hutchcraft focused on myths, signs, and stigmas the Human Resource professionals should be aware of.  

“It’s a very hard thing to track and we still know that human trafficking takes place everywhere,” Hutchcraft said. “So, whether you are a stay at home mom or you’re a professional in any environment this is important, because it might be a friend, a family member, as well as a co-worker, a church member, that you could end up helping if you know the red flags to look for.” 

The presentation included useful links to resources and data to show the important of the issue.  

One participant in the presentation, Ashley Stalford, the human resource specialist of Labette Health, said, “In the hospital you would automatically just basically assume everyone that’s coming in that was beat up, or something like that, would be involved in domestic violence. After today that’s definitely not the case and it’s gonna allow me to kind of look more into that and see the sides of human trafficking.”

Hutchcraft stated there is a high chance that every person will come across someone who has suffered from human trafficking within their lifetime.

You can find more resources on human trafficking here.



Some Four State teachers won grants to spruce up their classroom

JOPLIN, Mo. – Some Four State teachers earned some extra cash to fund their classrooms thanks to grants.

Western Governors University awarded nine southwest Missouri teachers grants as a part of their “fund my classroom” initiative.

Officials say the grants totaled more than 42 hundred dollars and each grant for the teachers ranged from one hundred to one thousand dollars.

The following teachers were awarded grants:

  • Susan Wilson, a first-grade teacher at Granby Elementary School in Granby, who received a $170 grant to purchase a variety of manipulatives and other materials to go along with the new Science of Reading program being implemented next school year.
  • Charlotte McGuirk, a first-grade teacher at Granby Elementary School in Granby, who received a $320 grant to purchase a variety of manipulatives and other materials to go along with the new Science of Reading program being implemented next school year.
  • Tonya Smith, a family and consumer science teacher in the Bronaugh R-7 School District in Bronaugh, who received a $516 grant to purchase air fryers and Instant Pots® for her classroom, providing her students with the opportunity to learn how to operate and utilize these convenient small kitchen appliances as part of her cooking unit.
  • Dana Reed, a special education teacher at Diamond High School in the Diamond R-IV School District in Diamond, who received a $1,000 grant to fund her classroom cottage industry project that provides students with an opportunity to learn how to start and manage a small business, while gaining experience designing, producing, marketing and selling products.
  • Crystal Charles, a social studies teacher at Seneca High School in the Seneca R-7 School District in Seneca, who received a $350 grant to purchase 25 copies of The Words We Live By: Your Annotated Guide to the Constitution, a supplementary text that will help her AP government students break down the U.S. Constitution into layman’s terms and better understand it.
  • Micah Moorehouse, a fifth grade ELA teacher at Granby Elementary School in Granby, who received a $100 grant that will be used to purchase a classroom set of 12 Mark Twain Award-nominated books that were recognized for the 2022-2023 school year by the Missouri Association of School Librarians.

To find out more, click here.


MOScholars application process now open, looking for donors

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.  – Missouri is now accepting applications for MOScholars K-12 scholarships.

State Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick gave the update on the MOScholars program today. While the application process is open, the program is looking for donors, which fund the scholarships.

Applying for the Scholarships

“To begin the application process, parents or guardians should contact an Educational Assistance Organization (EAO) partnered with the school they would like their child to attend. EAOs will prescreen student applicants to determine eligibility. Once prescreening is complete, the EAO will refer the applicant to the MOScholars online application portal.” Treasurer Fitzpatrick’s Office. “It is the intention of Treasurer Fitzpatrick and the EAOs to have scholarships available for eligible students to use for the 2022-2023 school year.”

You can find more information at www.MOScholars.com.

“This is an exciting day for qualifying Missouri students who need educational options,” Treasurer Fitzpatrick said. “Our EAO partners, my staff, and I have been working hard to get this program up and ready to begin accepting applications. Now, the program needs donors to help make these scholarships possible. We know there are plenty of eligible students who can benefit from the educational opportunities afforded by this program—and I look forward to seeing MOScholars scholarships put to use this fall.”

Tax Credits for Donors

Donations to EAO’s help fund the scholarships. Donors can offset the funds by redeeming tax credits.

“MOScholars scholarships are funded through donations to EAOs that may be offset by redeeming tax credits against a donor’s tax liability. Prior to donating to an EAO, individuals and businesses seeking to make a donation to fund scholarships should reserve tax credits in the amount they intend to donate on the Tax Credit Reservation Portal. The Treasurer’s Office anticipates the portal will launch on June 27th. Donors who have reserved credits through the system may begin making donations to EAOs on July 1. The Tax Credit Reservation portal will be accessible at MOScholars.com once it is launched.”

About MoScholars

“In 2021, the Missouri General Assembly passed HB349 and SB86 which established the Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program, MOScholars. The law provides state tax credits for contributions to approved, non-profit Educational Assistance Organizations (EAOs). These EAOs use the contributions to award scholarships to Missouri students with Individual Education Plans (IEPs) and students living in low-income households.” – https://treasurer.mo.gov/MOScholars/


$53 million in bonuses given to Kansas child care providers

TOPEKA, Kan. – Kansas divides $53 million in bonuses for eligible child care staff at licensed facilities.

Governor Laura Kelly made the announcement today. Her administration is giving the money as a reward for their “incredibly essential, hard work.” The federal Child Care Development Funds is providing the money for these bonuses.

The state will divide the funds among about 22,650 early childhood care staff members across Kansas. Individual bonus amounts will range from $750 to $2,500 per person, according to the Kansas Office of Governor Kelly.

“Early childhood development is the smartest investment a community can make. Early childhood education programs benefit our kids in the long-term, both in and out of the classroom, and they make it possible for parents to enter and participate in the workforce,” Governor Laura Kelly said. ”That’s exactly why we’re making a total of $53 million available to nearly 23,000 child care providers throughout Kansas: We want to show our gratitude for all they do every single day.”

The Appreciation Bonus is a one-time payment. It will start in mid-to-late July. Continue reading for more information about eligibility and the program.


The Governor’s Office states, “Eligible child care providers must be regularly working in a paid position at a licensed facility and have a minimum of six months continuous employment at their current employer or six months of combined continuous employment with a licensed provider. Home-based and relative providers may also qualify for the bonus program.”

Those who have worked less than six months at a licensed facility could also have an opportunity to receive a bonus.

Licensed Facilities:

  • Child Care Centers
    • all Head Start programs and preschools
    • school age programs
    • day care homes
    • DCF relative providers

How the Bonus Program Works

Child Care Aware of Kansas (CCAKS) will implement the program on behalf of the Kansas Department for Children and Families and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

All eligible child care workers will receive a letter in July outlining the process to accept the bonus and will have until Nov. 18 to act.

CCAKS will offer educational webinars about the process as well.

You can learn more at ks.childcareaware.org.

“Child care professionals are essential to a thriving Kansas economy, providing high-quality early care and education to young children while ensuring parents are able to work,” said Kelly Davydov, Executive Director of Child Care Aware of Kansas. “We’re grateful for their service to young children and families.”

“Working in child care is a calling, one that inspires and educates the minds of young Kansans, and plays an important role in strengthening Kansas families,” said Laura Howard, Secretary of Kansas Department for Children and Families. “We cannot say it enough — Thank you child care workers for everything you do for Kansas children!”


Crowder College announces apprenticeship program

ANDERSON, Mo. — Crowder College announced a partnership between a local business and high school.

The college is working with Cooper Gear and Manufacturing out of Anderson, Missouri for an apprenticeship program.

Cooper Gear and McDonald County High School already have an apprenticeship program.

Now those students will be able to continue that hands-on learning experience and development of skills while in college at Crowder.


“Favorite Children’s Books Reimagined: What Do You See?”

JOPLIN, Mo. – A local artist puts a spin on some popular children’s books.

You can check out the “Favorite Children’s Books Reimagined: What Do You See?” exhibit at the Joplin Public Library.

Lori Marble, the now-adult child of a librarian, remembers books that shaped her childhood. She asked librarians at the Joplin Public and Post Art Libraries about their favorites. Then, she painted them in an abstract, mixed-media style.

According to Post Art Library Executive Director Jill Sullivan, Marble paints in an ambidextrous fashion, laying down large swatches of bold color using a palette knife in her left hand, while incorporating bold brush strokes and subtle details with her right. “The display is purposely hung at a child’s eye-view and will prompt each viewer to ask ‘What do you see?’”

Inside the Joplin Public Library, you can find the exhibit in The Bramlage and Willcoxon Foundation Gallery. It’s free and open to the public.


Missouri school districts (Neosho) subpoenaed over surveys

NEOSHO, Mo. – The Missouri Attorney General subpoenas several school districts, including Neosho, over questionable student surveys.

Attorney Eric Schmitt’s Office states the surveys may have been given to students without parental consent. They also may have asked students about their parents’ political beliefs and income, racially-biased questions, among other things.

“Seven school districts across Missouri were found to be employing “student surveys,” including some that ask students personal and otherwise unnecessary questions about their parents’ political views and income, and questions about their sexuality, as well as racially motivated or leading questions. According to information sent to the Attorney General’s Office, school districts are employing student surveys that are created by third-party companies like Panorama Education Inc. and Project Wayfinder Inc.” – Attorney General Office

The school districts include:

  • Mehlville School District,
  • Webster Groves School District,
  • Jefferson City School District,
  • Lee’s Summit R-7 School District,
  • Park Hill School District,
  • Springfield School District,
  • and Neosho School District

Schmitt is demanding information on the school district’s decisions to employ the student surveys, potentially without parental consent.

The subpoenas inquire whether the districts’ actions violate Missouri state statute 161.096, the Family Educational Right and Privacy Act, or the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment, and demand documents and information to determine the extent of the surveys and if parents consented to the surveys prior to distribution to students, amidst other important information.

>>> You can click here to see the Neosho School District Survey.

Missouri Transparency Portal

As part of the Students First Initiative, launched in March, the Attorney General’s Office also launched a transparency portal. It compiles open records requests that the Attorney General’s Office has sent to a number of school districts based on parent submissions through the Students First Initiative, or inquiring about certain school districts’ contracts with “diversity, equity, and inclusion” consultants.

You can find the portal here.

“As Attorney General, I’ve made it my mission to work to empower parents and increase transparency in Missouri schools. Subjecting students to personal, invasive surveys created by third-party consultants potentially without parents’ consent is ridiculous and does nothing to further our children’s education. After learning of these surveys, my Office has opened an investigation and sent subpoenas to seven school districts across the state to get to the bottom of these surveys and put a stop to them,” said Attorney General Schmitt. “Further, through our Students First Initiative, we’ve received submissions from parents across Missouri, and in an effort to increase transparency in our schools, my Office has sent open records requests to a number of schools across the state. Parents are encouraged to browse our new transparency portal and see the documents and information that districts have provided our office. I encourage parents to continue to submit objectionable curriculum and policies and practices, as my Office continues to fight for transparency and the right of parents to know exactly what is being taught to their children.”

Through submissions and open records requests, the Attorney General’s Office also uncovered a number of objectionable teacher trainings and assignments. The AG’s Office states they’ve found a “witnessing whiteness” teacher training, a student reading assignment that tells students to analyze a novel in “feminist” or “Marxist” lens, a slide from a school board seminar that visualizes the “cycle of oppression/socialization,” and more.

The Attorney General’s Office also sent a civil investigative demand to Educational Equity Consultants, a “diversity, equity, and inclusion” consultant that frequently works with a number of Missouri schools.



Tips on talking to children about school violence

Many parents are struggling with how to talk to their children about the Texas school shooting.

Parents are often afraid to bring up these topics because they don’t want to worry their kids. But, psychologists say avoiding the conversation can make the situation even scarier for children.

(‘Complete evil’: Texas gunman kills 19 children, 2 teachers)

“We want kids to learn about big traumatic things from a trusted adult. If they learn about it from other kids on the playground, homeroom or overhearing it on the radio, in a store, then they are going to hear potentially more sensational bits. They are not going to have accurate information,” says Dr. Jamie Howard, a senior clinical psychologist with the Child Mind Institute.

Dr. Howard says these conversations can start with children around school age.

“An opener is, ‘You know, I’m feeling really sad about a news story that I saw and I wonder if you have heard about it.’ You don’t want to jump in with a lengthy detailed explanation because it might be more than they need and more then they want.”

Dr. Howard says parents can remind kids that statistically, this violence is still very unlikely to happen at their school. Parents can also talk about what safety measures are in place.

“They practice stay put drills in their school where the doors are locked and they stay quiet. And I don’t even think my daughter knew what they were for. So, they weren’t so scary to her, but now she has a better understanding that they are to help keep her safe,” she says.

Dr. Howard also says it’s okay for parents to look sad or angry. However, she adds that parents should be mindful of their emotions. Big emotions from a parent can also scare children.

Parents should also keep a close eye on changes in their child’s emotions, behavior, appetite or sleep. Those could be signs a child is feeling anxious.

The National Association of School Psychologists says doing things that you enjoy, sticking to your routine, and being with friends and family can help make us feel better and keep us from worrying about the event.

Additional Tips for Parents and Teachers

Parents and school personnel can help children feel safe by establishing a sense of normalcy and security and talking with them about their fears. You can find additional tips from the National Association of School Psychologists below, or click here for more.

  1. Reassure children that they are safe. Emphasize that schools are very safe. Validate their feelings. Explain that all feelings are okay when a tragedy occurs. Let children talk about their feelings, help put them into perspective, and assist them in expressing these feelings appropriately.
  2. Make time to talk. Let their questions be your guide as to how much information to provide. Be patient; children and youth do not always talk about their feelings readily. Watch for clues that they may want to talk, such as hovering around while you do the dishes or yard work. Some children prefer writing, playing music, or doing an art project as an outlet. Young children may need concrete activities (such as drawing, looking at picture books, or imaginative play) to help them identify and express their feelings.
  3. Keep your explanations developmentally appropriate.
    • Early elementary school children need brief, simple information that should be balanced with reassurances that their school and homes are safe and that adults are there to protect them. Give simple examples of school safety like reminding children about exterior doors being locked, child monitoring efforts on the playground, and emergency drills practiced during the school day.
    • Upper elementary and early middle school children will be more vocal in asking questions about whether they truly are safe and what is being done at their school. They may need assistance separating reality from fantasy. Discuss efforts of school and community leaders to provide safe schools.
    • Upper middle school and high school students will have strong and varying opinions about the causes of violence in schools and society. They will share concrete suggestions about how to make school safer and how to prevent tragedies in society. Emphasize the role that students have in maintaining safe schools by following school safety guidelines (e.g. not providing building access to strangers, reporting strangers on campus, reporting threats to the school safety made by students or community members, etc.), communicating any personal safety concerns to school administrators, and accessing support for emotional needs.
  4. Review safety procedures. This should include procedures and safeguards at school and at home. Help children identify at least one adult at school and in the community to whom they go if they feel threatened or at risk.
  5. Observe children’s emotional state. Some children may not express their concerns verbally. Changes in behavior, appetite, and sleep patterns can also indicate a child’s level of anxiety or discomfort. In most children, these symptoms will ease with reassurance and time. However, some children may be at risk for more intense reactions. Children who have had a past traumatic experience or personal loss, suffer from depression or other mental illness, or with special needs may be at greater risk for severe reactions than others. Seek the help of mental health professional if you are at all concerned.
  6. Limit television viewing of these events. Limit television viewing and be aware if the television is on in common areas. Developmentally inappropriate information can cause anxiety or confusion, particularly in young children. Adults also need to be mindful of the content of conversations that they have with each other in front of children, even teenagers, and limit their exposure to vengeful, hateful, and angry comments that might be misunderstood.
  7. Maintain a normal routine. Keeping to a regular schedule can be reassuring and promote physical health. Ensure that children get plenty of sleep, regular meals, and exercise. Encourage them to keep up with their schoolwork and extracurricular activities but don’t push them if they seem overwhelmed.

Creative Learning Alliance hosts Open Lab event for local youth

JOPLIN, Mo. – The Creative Learning Alliance today hosted an open lab and paper airplane throwing event for young ones.

Kids aged 5-11 got creative this morning, while kids aged 12+ had an afternoon session in the lab.

“Kids learn by doing, first of all. So it’s important that we let them and give them a place to do. And then secondly, it’s important because we want kids to be excited by science, said Neely Myers, Project Coordinator. “We don’t want it to be a drag with just a textbook like at school. We want to make it very real and very applicable to their life.”

The CLA says its vision is to engage people of all ages with hands-on activities driven by curiosity with a focus on STEM.

To find out more about the Creative LEarning Alliance, click here.



Noel Elementary students take part in water safety training

PINEVILLE, Mo. — Big Elk Floats and Camping partnered with Noel Elementary to give students the chance to learn the fundamentals of being in and around a canoe.

Organizers say this program helps kids learn how to safely operate a canoe and to know the dangers of the river to avoid accidents.