ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — A local university and the Rockford School District are partners in filling classrooms with Illinois teachers.
It’s called the Aspiring Teacher’s initiative.
RPS officials tell us the program started small to ensure that it would be successful for students, teachers, and the community. Right now, eight students are in the cohort.
“One of the big successes has been just helping Rockford really grow some of their own teachers,” said NIU College of Education Dean Laurie Elish-Piper.
Local teachers filling Rockford classrooms is the driving force behind the Aspiring Teacher’s initiative.
“Our teacher candidates spend a year in Rockford, they finish their course work they do their student teaching, and then they stay on for an extra semester as an aspiring teacher who is teaching in the classroom but has a lot of extra mentoring support,” Elish-Piper said.
NIU Dean Laurie Elish-Piper says many educators like to be close to home for their first job.
“The aspiring teachers that we have in the program, we have eight of them right now, all desire to live and work in the community because that’s where they’re from,” she explained.
“Where we’re seeing benefits, I think locally, is the ability to have student teachers, young college kids, be with us for an entire year, and really learn the craft and art of teaching,” said RPS Chief Human Resources Officer Matt Zediker.
Zediker says the program creates strong candidates.
“They basically have a job interview for a year, and it allows our principals and other staff members to get an up-close personal look at as who they are as teachers, colleagues, professionals, and then being able to hire them to run classrooms,” he explained.
“We’re just kind of recirculating those experiences for our kids who become our teachers who then can influence our kids for tomorrow. So there’s really a lot of fantastic momentum going.”
NIU is currently taking applications for the next cohort that will start in the fall.