ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — The teacher shortage in Illinois is an issue that people across the state are working to combat. A local education pathway program is doing its part.

The Rockford Public School District and Rockford University teamed up on an education pathway program to address the issue.

The students will receive reduced tuition and a free Master’s Degree in urban education. But the partnership isn’t just a typical program. It will also guarantee students a job at the Rockford School District after graduation.

“The scholarship is a benefit yes, but the program itself I feel like it would benefit me more personally to help me achieve the path I want to go into, education, more,” explained Education Pathway student Guadalupe Moreno.

There are currently 20 seniors who are enrolled and look to teach within the district after they graduate from Rockford University.

Another recipien, Dejan Kuljanin, weighed in.

“I can’t wait to see all the students succeed in life. I want to see them go back out in Rockford and have them put back into the community the way I did,” Kuljanin said.

Guilford High School celebrated eight students enrolled in the program with a signing day Wednesday afternoon. Principal Gus Carter is proud that so many bright students want to stay in Rockford.

“It’s really exciting that we’re turning out the quality applicants, that we’re turning out so many of them, but that we’re also encouraging them to want to be in education,” Principal Carter said. “That means that they’re learning with us but they’re also seeing the other side of education.”

The principal also said that his students pursuing their passions are a testament to a district that solves its own problems.

“We’re not going to wait for you know another community, we’re not going to wait for the state, we’re not going to wait for programs. We’ll just do it ourselves, we’ll problem solve ourselves and get the best outcome we can possibly get,” he said.

Guildford High School’s Service Academy is preparing the group for Rockford University in the fall. They can even work at RPS over the summer to help pay for tuition.

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