BAY CITY, Mich. (WJRT) - A new scholarship opportunity for aspiring teachers that includes those already familiar with the school -- students, staff and -- parents in the Bay City Public School District.
The idea? To attract and retain educators to the district amid a nationwide teacher shortage.
Leaders say the district looks to stay ahead of the curve as more teachers have exited the field and fewer are entering.
"There's always been a teacher shortage but with Covid it just became more apparent as more teachers were leaving the field," Bill Gagliardi, Davenport University Executive Campus Director of the Great Lakes Bay Campus said.
With more than half of school districts across the country reporting shortages in teachers, Bay City Public Schools is looking to help those who want to pursue education through a scholarship opportunity with Davenport University.
"A bus driver, a cafeteria worker, clerical staff, somebody working in a classroom but as an educational aide. We see great potential in many of them to move on to teaching," Bay City Schools Superintendent Stephen Bigelow said.
In total there are 75 scholarships available -- 25 for non-professional school staff, 25 for students and 25 for parents in the district, helping them to progress toward their teaching goal.
"It opens the door to a wide variety of people in our community who are thinking about education but perhaps are not choosing the path because of finances or life circumstances. It gives them a push to enter the teaching profession," Bay City Public Schools Chief Academic Officer Patrick Malley said.
The scholarships are for those wanting to pursue urban education degrees or certificates.
"We're talking about $12,000 scholarships every single year," Bigelow said.
And the goal is not only to get more teachers, but also keep them. Not only in the district, but in the community.
"We're hoping that these teachers and intending that they stay here, stay in Bay City, teach in Bay City, live in Bay City. So, it's really going to help this community grow and prosper," Gagliardi said.
Bay City Public School District is the fourth district in the state to form the partnership with Davenport.
Grand Rapids, Pontiac and Kentwood Public Schools have already signed on.
If you'd like to learn more, contact the Bay City Public Schools Superintendent.