The IU School of Education at IUPUI and MSD of Lawrence Township are teaming up to address teacher shortages. The two have developed the District Based Alternative Certification program, which aims to help school employees obtain elementary certification while continuing to work.
More than a dozen Lawrence Township employees are currently enrolled in the 18-month program, many of them being social workers, teaching assistants and behavior specialists. They will complete the program in December and could be assigned to their own classrooms as early as January. Additionally, those who complete the program would be six courses away from a master’s degree.
"Many of these employees have been with the school district for 15 years or more," says Tammorra Golder, assistant director of human resources in Lawrence Township. “They’re already in our classrooms and know our culture. It’s a win-win situation. They have their dreams come true to become a teacher and we get to keep our employees and see them grow into classroom teachers.”
IUPUI says 85 percent of the employees taking part in the program are people of color.
"This program really focuses on diversity," said Latonia Smith, an instructional assistant at Lawrence Township, who is enrolled in the program. "It’s opened my eyes to a lot of things happening in the world with social injustice to different types of people. We’ve learned how to be aware of some of the different issues our students face and how to meet students and their families where they are."
IUPUI says it is in discussions with other Marion County schools in hopes of expanding the program.