Here’s a little secret about the teacher shortage. To recruit top teachers, you need to invest in them.
With support from the community, Canyons District has led the state in growing teacher salaries. Now, the District is taking the added step of investing in its non-teaching staff who aspire to become teachers with a college scholarship program.
Funded by CSD employees for CSD employees through a new payroll deduction program, the Aspiring Canyons Educator (ACE) scholarship will provide up to $5,000 in annual tuition assistance for employees enrolled in a college education program. CSD’s high school graduates are eligible for the ACE scholarship, too.
“We view this as a way for our veteran teachers and administrators to give back to the profession, build our own teacher pipeline, and help colleagues and students ‘ace’ their dream of becoming a teacher,” said CSD Human Resources Administrator Everett Perry.
The program — a partnership between CSD’s Human Resources Department and the Canyons Education Foundation — is a home-grown strategy for combatting Utah’s teacher shortage.
To be eligible for the scholarship, applicants must:
- Work for CSD and be enrolled in a college-level education prep program.
- Be a CSD graduate with proof of admission to a college or university and plans to study education.
Special consideration will be given to employees who have donated to the scholarship fund or who are earning certification as special education teachers.
“We’re really looking at those paraeducators and teaching assistants — anyone working in our schools — who has a love and passion for education already. Maybe they just need a little boost to take it to that next level and become a full teacher,” said Canyons Education Foundation Officer Denise Haycock. “We also have elementary and secondary teachers who want to go back and get that special education endorsement.”
In the future, Perry said, the District may open the scholarship to aspiring counselors, social workers, and school psychologists or school nurses, physical therapists and speech-language pathologists. “Over time, we can grow this ‘grow your own’ program, but we wanted to start where we have the most acute hiring needs,” he said.
Details about who is eligible and how to apply for the ACE Scholarship will be available soon. For now, the District is focused on getting the word out about the opportunity for employees to donate to the scholarship fund.
“If each of our 6,000 employees gave $1 per pay period, the Foundation could raise nearly $150,000 for scholarships,” said Haycock. “We’re hoping, at a minimum, we can ask people to donate $2 a paycheck, so $4 a month. That will give us a good start. But there are people out there who will want to do more.”
In August, CSD employees will receive a payroll deduction form for opting in to having their donations automatically deducted from their paychecks. Those who prefer to give in one lump sum can make a cash donation to the ACE Scholarship Fund through the Foundation.
“For the price of a coffee or ‘dirty soda,’ you could help someone make the leap to embracing a fulfilling career as a classroom teacher,” Haycock said. “All donations will to go into an endowment fund that will earn interest, and the Foundation will be soliciting private donors to ask if they would be willing to match our employee donations.”
Every donation counts, Perry said. “We’re excited about this program and the positive impact it will have on our community. With the help of our employees, we can foster a new generation of educators who will shape the lives of countless students for years to come.”
Like What You Heard?
Check out Connect Canyons for more awesome interviews and discussions.