ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Rockford Public Schools want to get more diverse inside its classrooms, and it wants to add more men to its roster of educators.

To do that, the district is teaming up with a non-profit that works to accomplish that goal. District 205 is especially focused on high schools and K-5 classrooms.

Directors leading the initiative said that they are excited for the potential impact in the community’s classrooms.

“Looking to diversify the teacher landscape, to recruit and retain men, which at the K-12 level is historically low,” said David Castro, director of partnerships for ‘Grow Your Own Teachers Illinois.’

Rockford Public Schools said that it is passionate about changing that narrative.

“From the district lens, there is just a huge need for this. The landscape of male educators in the K-12 space, specifically when we look at those early grades in K-5, they’re just not there,” said Jason Pope, director of recruitment for RPS 205. “We have a large number of diverse males throughout our district that serve in student support positions that we know would make great teachers in the classroom.”

“Grow Your Own Teachers Illinois” was formed to give opportunities to those wanting to be role models in the community. With the help of the non-profit and RPS 205, candidates are connected with schools to complete an Associate’s Degree.

“For us, it is really clear that it’s not folks not wanting to get involved in education,” Castro said. “It’s really the measures of wrap around support and services.”

“There’s a lot of lisenger programs out there for third and fourth year of college, and there’s a lot of ways to get into those,” Pope added. “But, to get into them, you have to have that Associate’s Degree complete, and that becomes a barrier for a lot of candidates.”

It does take a certain kind of person to reach the district’s goal.

“Servant leaders, that’s what it’s about. People who want to make an impact in our students lives and wanna come back and work in our community,” Pope said. “That’s a very important thing. We want them to be members from the community that want to stay here and invest in our community.”

The application process runs through March 17. Any questions can be directed to Pope at