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'Grow Your Own' grant for $624,375 is awarded to help develop teachers in region

The Southwest MN Teacher Preparation Partnership (SWTPP) -- which includes a collaborative effort of District 518, Minnesota West Community and Technical College and Southwest Minnesota State University -- has received a grant award of $624,375 from the Minnesota Department of Education for the “Grow Your Own” pathway for adults. This pathway provides opportunities in offering teacher education licensure programs in elementary education and English as a Second Language, along with a possible K – 12 reading licensure minor, to candidates from the Worthington area.

This partnership was created after a need was identified by Worthington Public Schools for more teachers, and particularly for more teachers of color, to better reflect the students in District 518, which is one of the most diverse districts in the state of Minnesota. This collaboration has worked together for more than 10 years to bring together pathways for local students to be available and to reduce barriers in the pathway towards the teaching profession.

The stakeholders noted that it would be helpful if teacher preparation programs would have the barriers of distance and time adjusted, since the nearest teacher preparation programs were more than 60 miles away. Minnesota West developed an Elementary Education Associate of Science (AS) degree as a Transfer Pathways two-year program. SMSU received approval for a non-conventional elementary education program that utilized foundation coursework in education from Minnesota West and provided the remaining coursework through SMSU in Worthington on the Minnesota West campus. District 518 worked with Minnesota West to have concurrent courses taught at Worthington High School to encourage them to consider teaching as a future profession to recruit candidates. District 518 has also created and hosts a Future Teachers of America club.

SWTPP has identified multiple pathways toward teacher licensure for candidates in this program.

One pathway is for candidates enrolled in the Elementary Education AS degree at Minnesota West and taking these classes to transfer to SMSU. Candidates are able to remain in Worthington to take the SMSU courses at Minnesota West and complete their field experiences in the Worthington public schools.

The second pathway is for paraprofessionals hired by District 518; they are able to take the education foundation classes with Minnesota West and again transfer them to SMSU. They can remain in Worthington to take the coursework, complete their field experiences, and a recent grant award can support these candidates for their field experiences by providing stipends while completing their field experience hours.

The third and fourth pathways are for Tier 2 teachers and other community individuals who already have a bachelor’s degree and are seeking teaching licensure. These candidates can take the education foundation classes at Minnesota West, and then apply for admission to SMSU. They are also able to remain in Worthington to take education methods coursework at Minnesota West and complete their field experiences in the Worthington public schools.

The fifth and final pathway is for high school students at District 518 who take the concurrent enrollment education courses and participate in the Future Teachers of America club. These candidates can then enroll at Minnesota West to complete the Elementary Education AS degree.

Students do not need to travel to Marshall – all of the methods courses in college years 3 – 4 are offered through a dedicated SMSU faculty member, who teaches at Minnesota West in Worthington. For more information, contact Christine Quisley of Southwest Minnesota State University at

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