May/June 2021 Issue
April 26, 2021

’Grow Your Own’ initiatives will address teacher shortage

Author: Sylvia Saunders
Source: NYSUT United
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Thanks to a major grant, NYSUT’s Take a Look at Teaching initiative will be working with local unions around the state to build “Grow Your Own” programs that will help recruit and retain educators.

“Our goal is to inspire and support a new generation of diverse and talented people to join the education profession,” said NYSUT Executive Vice President Jolene DiBrango.

“Grow Your Own programs are a wonderful way to develop aspiring educators who are strongly connected to the school and community.”

NYSUT’s Grow Your Own initiative is a three-year project funded with a $675,000 grant from one of NYSUT’s affiliates, the National Education Association. The NEA’s Great Public Schools Fund provides grants to state and local affiliates with promising projects and ideas to help improve student success.

Research shows that successful GYO programs are rooted in strong partnerships between P-12, higher education and community organizations.

NYSUT will work with local unions on a wide variety of GYO programs including future educator clubs and career exploration/immersion activities for middle and high school students. For educators, the project will pilot peer networking, mentoring by in-service members and retirees and professional development through NYSUT’s Education & Learning Trust.

NYSUT will also co-sponsor a variety of virtual and face-to-face events, workshops and meetings, and share resources on an updated website, takealookatteaching.org.

GYO programs address the need for more diversity in the teaching force by recruiting and supporting students of color, particularly males of color. GYO initiatives can also be crucial in rural communities, which are facing serious recruitment and retention challenges. The project will expand efforts to recruit and support School-Related Professionals from within schools to become teachers.

The GYO project is a natural outgrowth of NYSUT’s Take A Look at Teaching initiative, which began three years ago to address the teacher shortage and improve diversity in the educator workforce. The need for teachers is great, as New York is facing declining enrollment in teacher education programs, increased retirements and shortages in difficult-tostaff subject areas and districts.

As New York’s student population has grown increasingly diverse, the teacher workforce remains 80 percent white. While students of color comprise 56 percent of total enrollment, teachers of color represent only 19 percent of the workforce.

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