South Bend Schools combats teacher shortage through innovative program

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The South Bend Community School Corporation is taking a grassroots approach to fight the teacher shortage by hiring from within.

They’re encouraging current employees that aren’t already teachers to go through a new program that will pay their way to earn a teacher’s license!

“This is a blessing to me and I’m just excited for the future,” says a future teacher through the program, Ramie George.

George has had a passion for working with children for years, but becoming a teacher just wasn’t in the cards, until now. 

“I love working with the students, just giving back and helping,” George explains.

Thanks to a partnership between South Bend Schools and BloomBoard, George will go from being a special education secretary at the administration building, to her dream of being a special education teacher within the district. 

It’s part of a program to recruit educators and fight teacher shortages by giving current staff a chance to pursue higher education and earn a teaching degree for free. 

“These are people who are already in our classroom, they already care about our students, whether they’re driving a bus or working in our buildings, who already have associate degrees, this lets them become teachers,” explains Superintendent of SBCSC, Dr. Todd Cummings.

George and 10 others signed on and earned their scholarships for the program Wednesday evening, meaning they’ll have no worries about looming student loans. 

The National Education Association of South Bend, otherwise known as the local teacher’s union, was there in support of the group and how it will advance learning in the classroom.

“We pay for them to earn their bachelor's degree, so they become teachers through no cost to them,” Dr. Cummings says.

“I’m already working, working, working, so this is a blessing I don’t have an extra bill to pay,” admits George.

It comes at a time when there’s a focus on higher teacher wages down at the statehouse. 

“Thanks to the historic investments, this body has made average teacher pay across the state, will reach our salary goal of $60,000 a year,” said Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb at his State of the State Address Tuesday.

Additionally, South Bend Schools recently announced a raise for all teachers, making $46,000 the minimum salary next school year.

George believes now is the time to follow her dream and help students achieve theirs.

“It’s truly a blessing,” shares George. “I’m happy South Bend Schools is offering this.” 

She says within a year and a half's time, she hopes to be teaching Special Education English or History at one of our local schools. 

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