SPS and MSU sign agreement aiming to keep future teachers in Springfield

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The “Grow Your Own” Program is for students, both high school and college, interested in a career in education.

Students will come to Missouri State University (MSU) to pursue a degree in education. Once they graduate, they’ll head back into a Springfield Public Schools (SPS) classroom to teach.

“They’ll come here to MSU and they’ll receive funding support from the school district as well as from MSU,” College of Education Interim Dean Dr. Barri Tinkler said. “The university will provide that and the school district will be providing tuition support that will be forgivable loans. Students will get this funding support after they graduate. They’ll go back to the school district and teach. Then, they essentially work off those loans, from staying in the district for several years after they complete a degree program.”

High school students in their junior or senior year would starting going through a program before heading to MSU.

“Our students would actually be a part of a Teacher Prep Program or Career Pathway at their high school,” SPS Superintendent Dr. Grenita Lathan said. “They will be exposed to various areas of education. [For example], introduction to education and introduction to child psychology. All those courses would vary based on the different opportunities and based on recommendations that we receive.”

MSU students in their last two years can also participate in the “Grow Your Own” Program.

“We have a designated pot of money called access scholarships that are designed specifically for students who may not typically be college going students or are first-generation college students who come from a background where they don’t have a lot of access to funding resources or students of color,” Dr. Tinkler said. “We’re extending that pot of funds to these students in Springfield Public Schools.”

With a nation-wide teacher shortage, both educators are hoping this will keep future teachers close to home.

“It’s nothing like having someone that has that personal connection to our district into our city.” Dr. Lathan said. “We are really excited that our students are going to have this opportunity and that we were able to keep people and keep future teachers here in Springfield.”

“For many teachers when they come out of school and they get into the teaching profession, it’s not a high-paying job,” Dr. Tinkle said. “The best thing that we can do is help relieve that debt burden. It is very helpful for them to be successful in that transition into their first teaching position.”

The initiative will start in fall of 2022.

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