New Apprenticeships to Cover Tuition for Future Michigan Teachers 

By Kyle Kaminski

November 16, 2022

Eligible participants include Michigan students who are interested in pursuing a teaching certificate; current school district support staff; current school district stakeholders like community volunteers; and those interested in changing careers to pursue a new job in education.

MICHIGAN—A new apprenticeship program announced this week by the Michigan Department of Education will give aspiring teachers a chance to work alongside veteran educators, preparing for successful careers in the classroom—and it will include paid college courses, too.

State and federal officials rolled out plans for the registered apprenticeship program this week, alongside nine Saginaw County school districts and Saginaw Valley State University.

The idea: Give future teachers a new path for developing their craft in an actual classroom, while simultaneously having the cost of their college tuition covered by the school that employs them.

“It’s no secret that Michigan is dealing with a teacher shortage, and recruiting more qualified educators is one of our biggest priorities,” American Federation of Teachers Michigan President David Hecker said in a press release. “By establishing this apprenticeship program, we will provide another pathway for talented, passionate individuals to gain the skills they need to teach effectively and complete their education requirements graduating from an educator program, all while being paid fairly.”

Over the next several months, the Saginaw Intermediate School District will work with Saginaw Valley State University and nine local school districts to build out the program in time for the 2023-24 school year. Participants will have their college courses paid for by the school where they work, which can then take advantage of a variety of new federal, state and local funding streams to offset the costs.

The goal: Reverse a shortage of teachers in Michigan, while also expanding opportunities for students to find good-paying jobs in public education.

Apprentices must still earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree, graduate from an educator preparation program and pass a teacher certification test to be certified to teach in Michigan. But workers who complete apprenticeship programs earn an average of $300,000 more over the span of their careers, officials said.

Eligible participants include Michigan students who are interested in pursuing a teaching certificate; current school district support staff; current school district stakeholders like community volunteers; and those interested in changing careers to pursue a new job in education.

In a release, State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice said apprenticeships are “game-changers” that help level the playing field for aspiring teachers who lack educational resources and support. He expects the new program to increase access to the profession in Michigan, without lowering standards for entry, and to create more diverse workforces that reflect the communities that teachers serve.

“Apprenticeships are a proven pathway to prepare professionals in a multitude of careers, and we are enthusiastic to have them available now to help us address the teacher shortage for school districts across Michigan,” Rice said. “This is a new pathway into the teaching profession, one that will provide earn-while-you-learn opportunities, substantial pre-teaching mentoring, and a great deal of experience with children prior to becoming a teacher.”

The program is expected to have its first group of apprentices in the 2023-24 school year, who will then work with experienced teachers across nine public school districts in the Saginaw County area:

  • Saginaw Public Schools
  • Saginaw Township Community Schools
  • Swan Valley School District
  • Merrill Community School District
  • Hemlock Public School District
  • Charles Community School District
  • Bridgeport Spaulding Community School District
  • Birch Run Area Schools
  • Saginaw ISD Head Start

Saginaw Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Ramont M. Roberts said the program will “provide another layer of preparation” for those who have the prerequisite skills to be a highly effective teacher, yet lack the resources and formal training to receive the appropriate credentials.

He added: “This is a fantastic opportunity to catapult educators who are currently in support roles into lead teaching roles. This will be a game-changer for Saginaw Public Schools relative to providing high-quality, committed, and rooted teachers to place in front of our students.”

Click here for more details about the state’s registered apprenticeship program.

Author

  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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