Austin Public Schools has been awarded a $749,000 Grow Your Own (GYO) grant from the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE). Austin Public Schools Superintedent Dr. Joey Page indicated that the district will use the grant funds to help create opportunities for secondary students to explore teaching as a profession through Introduction to Education courses, future educator clubs, and other activities that help them see teaching as a promising career after completing their postsecondary education. Dr. Page stated that the programs will also align to the district’s Packer Profile, which guides students to explore future careers and educational opportunities through authentic learning experiences with relevance beyond APS.
The Minnesota Department of Education has stated that “Grow Your Own” programs are partnerships between educator preparation programs, school districts, and community organizations that recruit and prepare local community members (e.g., parents, paraeducators, non-certified school staff, and high school students) to enter the teaching profession and teach in their communities. Department of Education officials stated that increasing the diversity of educators in the classroom benefits all students, especially those from historically marginalized populations who often do not see educators who look like them during their time in school.
In addition, Austin Public Schools received a second GYO grant in partnership with the Zumbro Education District for over $460,000. Dr. Page stated that the grant will be used to assist in developing Special Education teachers.