Bay City Public Schools introduces innovative scholarship program

Bay city public schools and Davenport University signed an agreement that will create 75 new scholarships toward degrees in education.
Published: Jan. 23, 2023 at 6:30 PM EST
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BAY CITY, Mich. (WNEM) – Bay City Public Schools has partnered with a local university to offer a scholarship program to help address the teacher shortage.

“It is this convergence of two innovative organizations, and we’re excited about that,” said Rick Pappas, the president of Davenport University.

On Monday, Jan. 23, Bay City Public Schools and Davenport University signed an agreement that will create 75 new scholarships toward degrees in education. The goal of the partnership is to address the current teacher shortage that school districts have been facing statewide.

“There’s been a teacher shortage for a number of years and with COVID it has just made that much more apparent,” said Bill Gagliardi, the executive director at Davenport University’s Great Lakes Bay campus.

As more people are retiring from the profession, fewer are entering it. Low pay and lack of support have turned some away from pursuing the field.

Bay City Public Schools Superintendent Steve Bigelow said the new program will help bridge that gap.

“This allows us the opportunity to not only provide funding for their schooling but also the time to do that. So, we can find our own teachers within the system right now and help them through the entire process,” Bigelow said.

That includes a mentorship program that continues beyond graduation.

“This method gives them weekly coaching, there’s nothing like it. The current model is, you don’t teach until your senior year. We’re putting them into the schools their freshman year,” Pappas said. “They aren’t teaching, but they’re learning the culture, they’re learning how to teach from mentors.”

Those who are chosen for the award will be able to receive up to $12,000 per year towards a bachelor’s degree and $7,000 per year towards a master’s. The scholarship will be available not only for students, but faculty and parents as well.

“There’ll be some parents that say, ‘You know what, I’ve always wanted to teach. How do I get into this program?’ They may already have a bachelor’s degree, so then they’ll add a graduate program, or they’ll come in as an undergraduate,” Pappas said.

The program will also aim to bring in a diverse set of individuals to reflect the community. The first set of scholarships will be awarded for the Fall 2023 semester.