LINCOLN — Alcona Community Schools has received a $10,000 grant to develop new opportunities for middle and high school students to explore education professions.
Alcona Schools is among 44 school districts in the state to be selected to receive the grant for the Michigan Department of Education’s Future Proud Michigan Explore program. Funds for the state grant come from federal dollars earmarked for teacher recruitment.
Superintendent Dan O’Connor said the grant will give students exposure to the teaching field within their school.
“It’s likely going to be some type of class or student experience that we’re going to try to embed into the school day and students would then have a curriculum that they would be working through, kind of introducing the teaching career as a profession,” O’Connor said.
Grant funds can be used to build implementation teams, provide student engagement activities, and plans for hands-on learning courses in the 2021-22 or 2022-23 academic years.
Additionally, the state department of education will provide participating school districts with flexible models for implementation, curricular resources and free professional development for educators.
State Superintendent Michael Rice said in a news release teachers help to build a better world, and investments need to be made in the state’s future proud Michigan educators.
“We need to encourage our young people to consider developing and using their talents as Michigan educators,” he said.
O’Connor said district officials are hoping the program will start to energize the next generation of teachers. He said the teacher shortage is “reaching a cliff” in terms of trying to find and attract talented teachers.
“It’s going to be extremely challenging over the next five to 10 years to try to find teachers, especially for some of the more critical openings. Special education, for one, is becoming almost impossible to find qualified candidates. So the more narrow the field is, it seems to be the less students are going into that field.”
MDE officials said the grantees proposed several innovative approaches to implementing Explore programming, including
virtual and hybrid instruction paired with local teacher mentors
Inclusive and equity-focused programs that intend to bring a more diverse generation of teachers to future classrooms
Programs that will recruit current students into the teaching profession as advocates for their local communities, including urban, rural and indigenous communities
Programs that attract diverse students into roles as secondary science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) educators
Increased opportunities for high school students to earn college credits
Coursework articulated from high school, through a two-year college and into an educator preparation program
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