Grow Your Own Program receives $2M in funding

Getting more teachers in the classroom is the goal of a program designed to place more educators in Saginaw schools.
Published: Nov. 6, 2023 at 5:29 PM EST
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SAGINAW, Mich. (WNEM) - Getting more teachers in the classroom is the goal of a program designed to place more educators in Saginaw schools.

The Grow Your Own (GYO) Program, a partnership between the Saginaw Public School District and Saginaw Valley State University, will receive $2 million in funding.

“It’s been now, consistently, for about three years that we’ve had vacancies to begin the school year. Our highest number was upwards of 40. Fortunately, we were able to get that down in the twenties this year with the help of the GYO Program,” said Saginaw Public Schools (SPS) Superintendent Ramont Roberts.

Roberts said addressing the shortage of teachers in the district is getting easier thanks to the GYO Program.

The program enables school district employees to receive educational training free of charge, setting them on a path to teaching.

“Short-term challenges, in terms of putting individuals in the classroom through the one-year accelerated certification program which we partner with Saginaw Valley on. But also long term, we have a phase two that we’re partnering with Delta and Saginaw Valley on that will provide certified teachers for the next three to five years,” Roberts explained.

SPS funded the first year of the program. Now, state Rep. Amos O’Neal and state Sen. Kristen McDonald-Rivet have secured $2 million in state funding for the program to continue.

“Education is one of the number one priorities for us in terms of making sure our teachers are supported, our students are supported, and our families are supported,” O’Neal said.

“We had many conversations as we were working through the budget, and being able to seed a program that allows for the fast tracking of teachers is indispensable for the district,” said McDonald-Rivet.

Veronica Yacks and Samantha Rossell, two fourth grade teachers who participated in the first year of the program, said it was life-changing.

“Once I heard about the GYO Program, I knew I had to learn more, and I’m very glad that I did,” Yacks said.

“This program will pave the way for a much brighter future, not only for the individuals who benefit from it, but for our students, families, and our district and society as a whole,” Rossell added.

As for Roberts, he called this a win-win for these new teachers and the district.

“It’s given them everything that they’ve hoped for. It provided them an opportunity to become certified, it’s fully funded, so there’s no out-of-pocket costs for them, and it gives them an opportunity to thrive in a career,” Roberts said.

Roberts said as of now, the GYO Program is expected to be in place for five to seven years.

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