Indianapolis Public Schools is proud of our graduates and their diverse, inspiring journeys. We have created the IPS Alumni Spotlight to celebrate our former students and showcase their experiences, accomplishments, and personal interests. Every graduate has a unique path, and we can all learn from their journeys.
IPS recently asked Mykah Coleman, a 2020 graduate of Shortridge High School, about her journey that began in the state’s largest district.
She’s already off to a fast start. After graduating from Shortridge, she enrolled at Maria University to study elementary education at Marian University. She plans on graduating in May of 2025 with hopes of teaching at a school in IPS.
The last year was a whirlwind for Coleman, being crowned the 500 Festival Queen Scholar in May 2023. Coleman was one of the 33 Indiana college-aged women selected for the 2023 500 Festival Program. Each 500 Festival Princess received a $1,000 scholarship, a custom pendant, and opportunities to volunteer. Coleman received an additional $1,500 and will represent the Indianapolis 500 at various events through the next celebration in 2024.
Q—How did your experiences at Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) shape your educational foundation and career aspirations?
A—My time and experiences at IPS were one that I would never forget. I have always had amazing teachers who have pushed me to be the best student not only in school but also in the world and to be a globally-minded citizen. Knowing that I’ve always wanted to be a teacher, I did not doubt that I wanted to go back into IPS and become a teacher at the biggest, and one of the best, districts in Indiana.
Q—Can you share memorable moments or teachers who had a significant impact on your time at IPS?
A—My third-grade teacher, Christy Panchot, was the first teacher who inspired me to become a teacher because she showed each and every one of her students appreciation and that we are intelligent and capable, no matter what background we come from. My fourth- and fifth-grade teacher, Mr. Landmeier, was my first-ever male teacher. He left a lasting impact on me because he got to know not only me but my family as well. He went out of his way to make sure that I was achieving the goals that he set for the class, but also what I set for myself, and I will forever be grateful for that! My high school IB English teacher, Mrs. Garner gave me some of the best memories of my junior and senior years of high school! She was also my advisor, so I saw her quite often, and she never failed to put a smile on my and my peers’ faces. When COVID-19 canceled the rest of my senior year, Mrs. Garner made sure to reach out to her students to check up on us and to encourage us that we would get through those hard times. She would do mental health check-ins and would even still check in from time to time since I started college!
Q—How has your education at IPS influenced your personal and professional development since graduating?
A—Having the opportunity to take Honors and IB classes in high school, I was challenged as a learner to consistently work hard and that with hard work comes great success. Since then, I have always taken the chance to take higher level courses and to challenge myself to grow my working and thinking skills as a student and future professional working adult.
Q—What specific skills or knowledge gained at IPS have proven most valuable in your current life or career?
A—Being a part of the International Baccalaureate program helped shape the way I view the world and my personal beliefs. Because of that, I utilize the 10 Learner Profiles that both CFI and Shortridge instilled in my head to expel each day. Once I become a teacher, I plan to utilize the Learner Profiles in my classroom because they truly are some of the best attributes to live your life by!
Q—In what ways have you stayed connected with the IPS community, and what advice would you offer current IPS students for a successful future?
A—The biggest way I stay connected with my IPS community is by going back to my elementary school and volunteering and their different school and community events! During my time as a 500 Festival Princess, then Queen, I visited numerous IPS schools and learned about the many types of wonderful students IPS has in their schools! My advice for current IPS students is to utilize all the resources their school has to offer! IPS has some of the best resources you could ever think of to set your future up for success, no matter what E you choose once you graduate high school, so utilize them! I would also say to ask questions! As simple as that sounds, that’s what your teachers and school staff are there for — to answer any questions you may have. From your personal life, school life, and issues with friends, to life outside of high school, ask those questions! As a future teacher myself and a student who used to struggle with asking for help, I want to spread the message that teachers are some of the best people to ask questions!