Springfield, Grow Your Own Teachers

An Illinois Initiative
A Project of Grow Your Own Illinois, in partnership with Illinois Board of Education


Grow Your Own Illinois is an innovative partnership of community organizations, higher education institutions, and school districts that support parents, community members, and paraprofessionals in low-income communities to become highly qualified teachers. The goals of the initiative, which will prepare 1,000 teachers by 2016, are:
• Create pipeline of highly qualified teachers of color
• Improve teacher retention in low-income schools
• Recruit for hard-to-staff schools and hard-to-fill positions
• Increase cultural competence and community connections of teachers
Grow Your Own Teachers is state law. As of 2007, there are 15 GYO partnerships in Illinois, 8 in Chicago and 7 in other high need areas, supported with state funds.

The Need

High rates of teacher turnover in low-income schools. In some Chicago schools, 39 percent of first-year teachers leave, more than double the state average rate of 16 percent
Teachers “go home” to teach. Eighty-five percent of teachers choose jobs within 40 miles of home. GYO targets as potential teachers, community members who are already home.
Numbers of African American and Latino teacher graduates are decreasing (e.g., within 60 miles of Chicago, AA grads: 7.8%, 1995; 5.7%, 2003).

If you are interested in becoming a Grow Your Own teacher

Inform the GYO Administrator of your interest.
Meet with the Administrator to learn about the program time lines, and requirements.
Apply to participate in the GYO initiative in your community.
Find copies of your transcripts from high school and any college courses.
Assess, with higher education partners, your academic history.

Criteria for GYO teacher applicants:
An applicant must have a high school diploma or GED, but you may not already have a bachelor’s degree from college.
An applicant must be eligible for federal financial aid, which means you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent legal resident.
An applicant must be a paraprofessional or school aide, parent, or community member active in your local schools.

Program basics
Tuition is covered by a loan, which is forgiven when the GYO candidate, once certified, teaches for at least five years in a high-need public school.
Child care and tutoring are provided free of charge.
Transportation to and from classes are covered through a financial stipend.
Cost of assessments are covered.
Classes are held at convenient locations and times.

How GYO works

Consortium. A community organization, a 4-year higher education institution, and one or more school districts or schools form a partnership (a consortium). Community colleges and teacher unions are also likely partners.
Cohort. The partnerships recruits a group of parents, community members, and paraprofessionals who meet the criteria and want to teach. The GYO teacher candidates form a cohort and, supported by a coordinator, give each other academic, social, and emotional support. Higher education classes are offered in the community at times convenient for the candidates, recognizing that most of them work full-time.
Implementation funds. State funds support GYO initiatives. The consortium writes a proposal to Illinois Board of Education. Once approved, funds may be used for a cohort coordinator(s), outreach and other costs, tutoring, child care, transportation, and forgivable loads, to cover tuition costs not covered by financial aid. The loans will be forgiven after GYO teachers teach for five years in an eligible school.

Become a GYO Teacher now!

Contact the local GYO coordinator in your area
Request information at csham@sps186.org or dwool@sps186.org
Visit the website to learn if there is a consortium near you: www.growyourownteacher.org
Sign up to become a GYO teacher candidate. Contact your local program at sps186.org/growyourown/ or use the inquiry form at www.growyourownteachers.org/BeATeacher/
Attend an informational meeting in your area.
Distribute informational materials in your community.
Advocate for funds for ongoing implementation of GYO