Michigan's second-largest school district, Utica Community Schools (UCS), recently received a $10,000 grant to encourage more students to explore careers in teaching. The Future Proud Michigan Explore grant, from the Michigan Department of Education, will allow the district to expand initiatives such as education career information and address the declining enrollment
in teacher preparation programs.
A 2019 study
projected an anticipated shortfall of 600 Michigan teacher by the 2022 to 2023 school year. Recent research
further indicated that Michigan has been producing more new teachers at the elementary school level than were able to find jobs in the state, while districts have struggled to fill vacancies in math, special education, and world languages.
“Through this grant, we want to build that next generation of educators who will inspire and positively impact the lives of students through the power of education,” said UCS Interim Superintendent Robert Monroe.
Henry Ford II senior Trezeta Halaq, pictured here with a Graebner Kindergarten student, plans to enroll next year in Oakland University's elementary education program.
The grant will provide funding for career awareness at the junior high level, by integrating lessons in areas such as the current Life Skills program, said Kim Charland, the UCS director of secondary programs. The program currently has 60 students, targeting increased student interest for secondary education, special education and programs that support English Language Learners.
Henry Ford II junior Jacob Wojciechowski is participating in the Future Educator program, and said he wants to "make a difference".
“I have been so inspired by my teachers, and I want to do the same for others in the future,” Wojciechowski said.
Graebner Elementary teacher Nicole Terenzi said she has seen first-hand how the program has created successful teachers – including a former student who worked in her class.
Terenzi said the students learn every aspect of teaching, from classroom management, providing individual support, to teaching class lessons.
“It really gives students a hands-on experience in what it takes to be a successful teacher,” she said.