Oct 23, 2023

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has awarded the first-ever state-funded “Grow Your Own” grants to 125 local education agencies (LEAs). Review the list of those grant recipients here. Richland School District was a receipt of this grant.  DESE’s Fiscal Year 2024 budget includes $2.5 million to support one-time grants of $10,000 to LEAs to create or strengthen their local “Grow Your Own” program, designed to increase recruitment of quality teachers in LEAs across the state.

“Teachers remain the number one school-level factor that can impact student achievement,” said Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven. “We appreciate the General Assembly recognizing the urgent need to address the educator workforce shortage here in Missouri, and how important Grow Your Own programs are in solving this issue.”

Grow Your Own programs work to attract local students as well as non-certified school staff, such as paraprofessionals and substitute teachers, to the teaching profession. Many programs also support those future teachers through their post-secondary education and path to certification. Funding is used to support a variety of activities, including dual credit courses, scholarships for high school students, student internships, and opportunities for other non-teaching adults to pursue programs that will allow them to become certified teachers.

“We begin with students attending Tipton High School and guide them to enroll in our new course Introduction to Education, offered in collaboration with the University of Central Missouri,” Ashlee Pettigrew, elementary principal at Tipton R-VI School District, wrote in the LEA’s application. “We then mentor and support prospective teacher candidates through cadet teaching and field experience in our classrooms. This sequence of opportunities allows students to have early exposure in the field of education as a career choice.” 

“Making sure our staff understands our small rural farming community and its needs is really important,” Carey L. Drehle, principal and superintendent at Montrose School District, wrote in the LEA’s application. “This is why recruiting students who have grown up here is vitally important to our future. This newest round of Grow Your Own grant funding will enable us to continue to do this.”

LEAs applied to DESE through a competitive grant application process. Grant funds must be obligated and reimbursement requested by May 31, 2024.

Funding was also provided to award Grow Your Own grants to 15 educator preparation programs and five community colleges. Review the list of those grant recipients here.