Aug 22, 2023 - Education

"Grow your own" program hopes to fill teacher gap

Illustration of people climbing up a ladder made of pencils

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Columbus City Schools has created a new partnership with local colleges aiming to solve educator shortages and diversify its teaching staff.

Why it matters: The teaching profession is facing an existential crisis, with high turnover — especially for new teachers — and not enough young people interested in the profession, Axios' Erica Pandey reports.

Driving the news: The Capital City Teacher Residency Program launches tomorrow with a pilot cohort of about 20 students.

  • It puts recent Columbus graduates and non-teaching employees — such as aides, custodians and cafeteria workers — on a path to a Capital University teaching degree and higher-paying job.

The big picture: Similar "grow your own" programs are gaining traction nationwide.

  • The hope is to boost retention by building a pipeline of future teachers who already feel connected to a district and understand its culture, curriculum and processes.

How it works: Locally, students take college courses entirely online at their own pace.

  • If necessary, they'll complete prerequisites through Columbus State Community College.
  • During their two years at Capital University, they'll be paid to work for Columbus City Schools during the day as a substitute teacher. Current employees will work in their existing job.
  • A Columbus teaching position is guaranteed after graduation.

What they're saying: "Not everybody can take off work for a year or two and go back to school … and that's one of the barriers that keeps people of color from becoming educators," program director Nisreen Daoud tells Axios.

Between the lines: Another is cost, so students will get help finding financial aid to offset tuition, Daoud says.

  • For example, Columbus State's Columbus Promise program lets recent Columbus graduates take prerequisites for free.

Zoom in: Thaddeus Anderson, a CCS intervention aide of 17 years, tells Axios he always wanted to be a teacher, but changing careers didn't seem possible at 50 years old — until now.

  • "I know my way around the classroom, I know the kids," Anderson says. "Lifting up people who are already here, who want to be here, it just makes sense."

What we're watching: Gov. Mike DeWine recently announced a state teacher apprenticeship program to help other schools develop similar programs, plus the state will provide $7,500 annual scholarships for participants.


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