Home Grown

New KUSD program gives students a head start on teaching degree

By Laura MarranKENOSHA.COM

After two decades in journalism, Marran earned her Master’s degree in Exceptional Education from UW-Milwaukee and has served as a special education teacher with Kenosha Unified School District since 2006. A Marquette University School of Journalism alum, Marran has lived in Kenosha since 1987.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

From elementary school writing assignments to high school interest surveys, when students are asked to envision their future occupation one of the most popular responses is “I want to be a teacher.”

Now, instead of just asking that question, Kenosha Unified School District is helping students pursue their answer.

Through a partnership with Carthage College and the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, KUSD will launch its Educators Rising initiative next month. The program gives students interested in teaching careers the opportunity to start their education degree while simultaneously earning high school credits.

“The idea is to give those who are interested in pursuing a career in education a head start,” said School Board member and former KUSD teacher Mary Modder. “Getting a teaching degree involves extra coursework, along with an unpaid student teaching assignment at the end. This is a way to promote education as a career and help those who see college cost as a barrier.”

The program will roll out January 2021 at the start of second semester with classes offered at both Carthage and Parkside. Course offerings aim to meet students’ needs with a choice of morning or evening classes, and are open to all junior and seniors whether they attend their high schools virtually or in-person. 

Carthage and Parkside are both fully virtual at this time. 

“Parkside and Carthage have been amazing in how they’ve embraced this idea. I’m so glad that KUSD was able to think outside the box. Students will get a head start, and really become college students.”

Bill Haithcock, Harborside Academy principal and co-chair of Grow Your Own program

In addition to providing students with a tuition-free college experience, dual-credit courses and a chance to explore career options, Educators Rising also aligns with KUSD’s long-term plans to increase the diversity, talent and commitment of the workforce, administrators said.

Accomplishing all those goals requires a multifaceted approach including district initiatives and community partnerships, said Bill Haithcock, Harborside principal and co-chair of the district’s Grow Your Own committee.

“We want to recruit and retain highly-qualified staff,” Haithcock said. “We have schools with great education programs in our town, let’s connect with them to do that.”

Educators Rising is a national program that aims to develop the next generation of highly skilled professional educators by inspiring high school and college students to serve their communities.

KUSD’s involvement in the program grew out of the district’s ongoing strategic planning including the Grow Your Own Committee, which has been exploring how to encourage “hometown talent” in recent years, Haithcock said.

“Parkside and Carthage have been amazing in how they’ve embraced this idea,” Haithcock said. “I’m so glad that KUSD was able to think outside the box. Students will get a head start, and really become college students.”

In addition to their coursework and dual credits, Educators Rising participants will receive college IDs and access to university libraries and other student opportunities.The Parkside and Carthage offerings are tuition-free. If enrollment exceeds available space in the courses, a lottery will be held, according to KUSD’s website. 

“We have wonderful teachers but many of our best are those who have roots in our community,” Modder said. “I am very proud of KUSD’s plan to ‘grow our own’ educators and feel that it will prove very valuable to our community.”

Students who are interested in Educators Rising should contact their high school guidance counselor. 

For information visit kusd.edu.