116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
High school students and paraeducators will be able to begin training for a career as an educator and get paid through a new apprenticeship program in Iowa.
The teacher and paraeducator apprenticeship program will provide opportunities for current high school students to earn a paraeducator certificate and associate degree. Meanwhile, paraeducators can earn their bachelor's degree all while learning and working in the classroom.
The program will begin in the 2022-23 school year.
School districts can apply for a grant to launch the apprenticeship in their schools.
The Iowa Department of Education and Iowa Workforce Development Agency is allocating $9 million in American Rescue Plan Act Elementary and Secondary School Education Relief funds for the apprenticeship program.
School districts will be required to partner with local community colleges or four-year colleges and universities to provide the required education and training to program participants.
Up to $40,500 will be provided over a three-year period for each high school student that completes the paraeducator certificate or associate degree model.
Up to $47,000 will be provided over a two-year period for each paraeducator that completes the bachelor’s degree model.
Funding will support:
- Tuition and fees up to $7,000 a year for up to three years at a community college.
- Tuition and fees up to $17,000 a year for up to two years at a public or private four-year college or university.
- An hourly rate of $12 for high school aides while still in school and 50 percent of wages that districts currently pay for aides and paraeducators for up to 30 hours per week for 36 weeks.
Laurie Phelan, president and chief executive officer of Iowa Jobs for America’s Graduates, or iJAG, said with so many school districts struggling to adequately staff schools, the apprenticeship model is a new opportunity to train future educators.
“There have been challenges for individuals getting in to teaching career,” Phelan said. “Young people in a program like ours have never seen themselves being a teacher because they have to work and they can’t go into debt.
“If they can learn and earn in a hometown school with teachers who are leaders, how good is that?”
IJAG assists students with barriers to graduating from high school or transitioning from high school to continued education and careers. It provides dropout prevention and school-to-work transition services for students beginning in seventh grade.
Phelan and iJAG Vice President Carly Harper consulted with the Iowa Department of Education on the teacher and paraeducator apprenticeship.
“The apprenticeship model offers to meet folks where they are no matter what their life circumstances,” Harper said.
Eastern Iowa school districts interested in applying for the grant including Marion Independent and Mount Vernon schools.
Janelle Brouwer, superintendent of the Marion Independent School District, said it’s a great opportunity for students to be exposed to a career in education and gain “valuable experience.”
In the Marion Independent district, there are existing paraprofessionals interested in pursing a teaching degree, but face barriers of cost and time, she said.
“It expands opportunities in a tremendous way that might meet applicants needs we otherwise wouldn’t have seen,” Brouwer said.
Comments: (319) 398-8411; email@example.com