The program has been a priority for Horton, who has implemented similar programs in his previous districts. The grow-your-own effort aims to reduce the number of persistently unfilled teaching jobs in DeKalb by training teachers in the schools they’ll be working in. The district has roughly 150 openings for teachers as of this week, human resources staff said at Monday’s board meeting.
Program participants will spend one year completing coursework and working in a classroom with a veteran teacher as a mentor. During that time, they’ll receive a $30,000 living stipend. At the end, they’ll have a free master’s degree in education and a guaranteed full-time teaching job in a high-need DeKalb school.
The initial interest form asks basic questions about an applicant’s experience. From there, they’ll get an email from the district’s search partner asking them to answer three questions on a video. And then, if it’s a good fit, they’ll be asked to do a virtual interview and submit an application to Middle Georgia State University, which is partnering with the district.
There’s no deadline for the applications, and DeKalb is hoping to fill one cohort of 50 to start in January. After that, a new cohort would commence every six months, starting in June 2024.
Applicants are required to have a bachelor’s degree already. The program is designed for people who are changing careers or who have no prior teaching experience. The district is looking for applicants who are compassionate, organized and flexible, Horton said.
In total, the district will spend more than $3 million to implement this training program and one that will help paraprofessionals get bachelor’s degrees.
“Give it a shot,” Horton urged those who are interested.