Call it a homegrown solution to the national teacher shortage.
Through a new scholarship program, Canyons School District — in partnership with Western Governors University — hopes to encourage more of its educational support staff to consider a rewarding career in teaching.
WGU is offering exclusive $5,000 Pathway to Teaching Scholarships to Canyons employees to help them further their education and cover some of the costs of tuition to become a licensed teacher. The university has set aside $50,000 and hopes to award scholarships to at least 10 employees. In addition, Canyons employees are eligible to apply for $2,500 scholarships through WGU’s K-12 Partner Scholarship program, which can be used to cover the costs associated with any approved WGU bachelor’s or master’s program.
“We have thousands of talented full- and part-time support professionals who are deeply connected to our schools. This partnership will allow us to support our employees in growing professionally while also growing the ranks of our teacher workforce from within,” said Canyons Superintendent Dr. Rick Robins.
The scholarships are an example of an emerging “Grow Your Own” strategy to teacher recruitment being embraced by school systems in response to the teacher shortage. While there are positive signs on the horizon — enrollment in Utah teacher preparation programs soared this year to its highest point in a decade — recruiters say the shortage remains a challenge, especially in science, math, and special education.
“Springtime is hiring season for Utah school districts, and we travel far and wide to find top talent for our classrooms,” said Canyons District recruiter Sally Sansom. “But we have paraeducators already in our classrooms who have a knack for working with special education students or English language learners, and who absolutely love their jobs. With support and encouragement, we are hoping more of them will consider getting a full teaching credential. We want these valued employees to be able to continue working with us while they pursue a teaching degree, and the WGU scholarships offer that flexibility.”
Headquartered in Salt Lake, WGU offers 29 bachelor’s, master’s and teacher licensure programs in its Teachers College. Its online, competency-based model allows students to learn at their own pace, whenever and wherever it is convenient, making it well-suited for busy, working adults.
Most WGU degree programs are about $7,000 per year. “We strive to deliver low-cost, high-quality degree programs that fit the lives of midcareer adults,” said Melissa Jensen, strategic partnerships manager for WGU.
All Canyons District employees are eligible to apply for the scholarships, but must first apply for admission to WGU. The application deadline for the $5,000 Pathways to Teaching Scholarship is Dec. 31, 2022 (see flier below). Information on the K-12 Partner Scholarship and other benefits can be found here.