Imperial County awarded grant to combat teacher shortage

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IMPERIAL COUNTY — In an effort to develop homegrown teachers and respond to a statewide teacher shortage, the Imperial County Office of Education and two dozen other agencies have been awarded grants to help classified school employees pursue teaching credentials, according to a press release from the county education office. 

The Orange County Department of Education is leading a consortium that includes the San Diego, Imperial, and Butte county offices of education. According to reports, these agencies have secured funding, collectively, for 100 applicants, with 10 of those being from Imperial County in the first year. 

The idea is to help classified staff — this group includes instructional assistants, bus drivers, clerical workers and other non-credentialed employees — who want to become classroom teachers, but still need to complete the necessary academic requirements.  Along with offsetting tuition costs, the program is designed to specifically target candidates with school experience, the press release said.

“I see this as really helping individuals who have a passion to be a teacher, but for financial reasons haven’t been able to realize their dreams,” said Judy Levinsohn, administrator for OCDE’s Institute for Leadership Development.

Successful applicants can receive as much as $4,000 a year to cover tuition costs for up to five years, but Levinsohn noted in the release that some prospective teachers have already amassed a number of credits and could begin teaching earlier. 

“I do think this is an amazing opportunity,” she said. “We want people who understand the challenges as well as the joys of what a teacher’s responsibilities and demands are.”