Schools in Wisconsin are discovering how to recruit staff members to become certified teachers. They’ve had difficulty filling teaching positions with licensed candidates, so they are training their staff members to become certified teachers.

Full time support staff from the Sun Prairie Area School District (SPASD) Grow Your Own Teacher Program are being placed in classes at Edgewood College, earning teaching certifications along with mentoring support and financial assistance.

Diversity within the district is one of the goals of Grow Your Own, says Employee Relations Manager Tracey Caradine. The number of minority students has steadily risen, while the shortage of teachers is a problem, and the shortage of minority teachers is particularly troublesome.

“You want your workers to look like your public, and so that’s what we’re doing for our kids,” Caradine said. The number of Asian and Hispanic students has more than doubled in the past ten years.

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Eligible staff must have a bachelor’s degree, and an interest in teaching in areas that are difficult to fill, such as math, science, or special education. The staff who are eligible are from underrepresented groups, such as minority teachers, bilingual employees who want to teach English Language Learning, or male teachers interested in elementary education.

Retention and recruitment efforts are aided through assistance with professional development and giving staff support through Grow Your Own, Caradine said.

“We’re actually investing in them, and we’re showing them that we value you and we feel that you have the potential to move forward,” she said.

The program is currently in its third year at SPASD.  There are five participants, and the first will earn his teaching certification this summer.

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