Grow Your Own Teacher Programs: A Win For All (2023)

Wouldn’t it be great if an aspiring teacher had a supportive guide, financial assistance, and a job lined-up before even completing their teaching degree? What if a school district could have a new teacher that was connected to the community and had training in areas important to the district? Both things happen with great grow your own programs.

As I write this, we’re officially in a recession. Districts will implement reduction-in-force (RIF) and use furlough days to trim budgets. Yet, many districts will still fund grow your own teaching programs. And – it’s absolutely the right thing to do!

Why? Despite a temporary economic downturn, we still face critical teacher shortages. This is especially true for teachers of color and teachers in speciality areas. Grow your own (GYO) programs, if done well, help with this challenge and do so much more.

Table of contents

  • What Is a Grow Your Own Teacher Program?
  • Why Do We Need Grow Your Own Programs?
  • Who is a Grow Your Own Program For?
    • Current Non-licensed Employees
    • Students
    • Community Members
  • What Are the Benefits?
    • Teacher Candidates
    • Districts
    • Higher Education
    • Students
    • Community
  • Important Characteristics
    • Responsive Curriculum
    • Support Structures
    • Retention Strategies / Mentoring
  • Examples of Grow Your Own Programs
  • Summary: Grow Your Own Teacher Programs

What Is a Grow Your Own Teacher Program?

A grow your own program is designed to recruit, develop, and retain teachers who are already in the community. It draws from people who are connected to the school or community but may not have considered teaching or who need (or want) additional support to enter the profession.

Grow your own programs typically include financial support, guidance, and the promise of a job upon graduation. The program is run by a school district, or a partnership between a school district, higher education institution, and a community organization.

The goal of a grow your own program is to create teachers who are already connected to the community, and ideally, share lived experience with the students they serve.

Why Do We Need Grow Your Own Programs?

Many school districts face chronic teacher shortages. This is especially true for some speciality positions such as special education, English language learner, and bilingual teachers. The shortage is due to many factors including declining interest in the profession, high turnover, and college costs vs. future income.

Grow Your Own Teacher Programs: A Win For All (1)

It is poised to get worse rather than better as a high percentage of practicing educators are eligible for retirement. To combat this, districts are pursuing a variety of workforce development programs. (Note: They should also be focusing on supportive retention strategies or the cycle just continues.)

So, simple workforce needs are one great reason for grow your own programs.

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However, even greater than the need to simply fill positions is the need to increase the diversity of the teaching workforce. The teacher workforce is still largely white, even in districts where the majority of students are not. This is problematic for many reasons. Here’s how the racial make-up of the teaching force changed over a 12 year period:

Grow Your Own Teacher Programs: A Win For All (2)

Many districts attempt to combat this problem by recruiting educators from other districts or states. This can lead to lower retention and less connection to the community. It is also insufficient to meet the need in most districts.

A grow your own program builds deliberate pathways from the community to the classroom. Many grow your own programs are targeted specifically at educators of color and help to eliminate barriers for educators while improving our classrooms.

Who is a Grow Your Own Program For?

Grow your own teaching programs are typically designed for three groups: existing employees who are not teachers, students, and community members.

Current Non-licensed Employees

There are amazing educators working in districts but not filling teacher roles. Paraeducators, and other support employees, are often the most dedicated, experienced, and skilled at connecting with students. All they lack is a license.

It’s important to note that not all paraeducators want to be a teacher. For those who do, a GYO pathway could be a great solution. Paraeducator pathways provide financial assistance, on-site programs, and bridge employment gaps during student teaching.


Current school district students can be incredible future educators, yet very few students consider teaching as a potential career. Pathways for these students typically start in high school. They’re provided exposure to career options, college credit opportunities in high school, summer employment, and a guided pathway into a teaching position.

Community Members

Some grow your own programs draw from interested members of the community. These are less common than paraeducator and student pathways, but they do exist. Often, the path includes employment as a paraeducator during teacher training. This provides financial assistance to the community member, and gives the district an opportunity to evaluate that potential future employee.

What Are the Benefits?

Grow your own programs have the potential to be beneficial to all stakeholder groups. That’s unusual to say! It’s why I believe they’re one of the best investments a district can make.

Teacher Candidates

While the benefits available vary by each GYO program, they’re generally a much better path for teacher candidates than going into teaching the traditional way.

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The economic benefits are significant when compared to the traditional path into teaching. Teacher candidates will be provided some level of financial assistance to attain a teaching degree. This can vary from tuition reduction all the way up to a guarantee of graduating with no student debt. Some continue work as paraeducators and receive full benefits!

In some GYO programs, students are even paid for their year of student teaching. They’ll have their own classroom for a year and be connected with a supervising teacher. This model of mentorship is much closer to apprenticeship and more effective for building skill. It is certainly better than the year-long free labor with limited responsibility that many of us experienced in traditional student teaching.

Grow Your Own Teacher Programs: A Win For All (3)

Good GYO programs provide a navigator system that helps prospective educators work through the paperwork associated with higher education, financial aid, licensing, and application.

Many GYO programs also operate under a cohort model, so students have a built-in support group and build their professional network early. The programs are highly relevant for the school and community they will serve.

Finally, teacher candidates don’t have to wonder if a job is available. The district has invested in them and, assuming completion of the program, a job is already waiting.


School districts get a program that directly targets ongoing workforce needs. The district does not need to depend on random schools of education to provide the necessary candidates. The selection process is less costly, and the outcomes less random.

Grow your own programs also provide the opportunity to tailor programs directly to the needs of the district and influence the education the students are getting.

By drawing from groups that are already familiar with the district, retention will be higher. Teachers from these programs know what they’re getting into and feel a higher degree of responsibility than outside candidates might.

Finally, if the district uses this as an opportunity to build an educator workforce that truly represents the community, and implements inclusive decision-making, it can provide better service to the community. I believe GYO programs are powerful change agents if supported correctly.

Higher Education

Higher education institutions that partner with districts on GYO programs get similar benefits. They have a dedicated pool of students which is valuable in an industry with variable enrollment and heavy recruiting costs.

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The university can use the district and students to guide program development, thereby creating an education model based on real-world need. Their graduates will be better equipped for the reality of teaching. It is also an opportunity to connect the college/university with the community it serves.

Finally, the high percentage of GYO graduates that will be employed helps the university stats.


Since the teachers come from the community, grow your own programs put educators in the classroom that know the reality the students experience at home. Students benefit from having educators of color at both the individual level and systemic level.

Relationship between teacher and student is incredibly important to student outcomes. Teachers who know their lived reality, who have experienced their schools, and made a commitment to support the community are more likely to build those relationships.

Similarly, educators from grow your own programs are more likely to design and support programs that are relevant and equitable to students.


One of the biggest challenges we face is a disconnect between our schools and communities. Schools have done poorly at connecting with and empowering traditionally underserved communities. Many stakeholders, particularly those of color, who have consistently faced systemic racism have an earned distrust of the system.

Building an education system with educators that come from the community and want to support that community is one step to building stronger trust. It is important to note that simply employing these educators is not enough – the district will need to ensure they are empowered to make change and impact the system.

Another community benefit is economic: more professional jobs. In many communities the school district is the largest employer. Why then are so many of the highest paid positions filled by those from outside the community? A GYO program that eliminates barriers and elevates non-licensed workers and students into a professional role without burdening them with debt can have a positive economic impact.

Important Characteristics

Here are two research reports on grow your own programs:

Examining Grow Your Own Programs

Literature Review of Grow Your Own Programs

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Grow your own programs are not new, but they’re still under development. The number, and scope, are increasing due to the workforce demands and renewed dedication to diversification of the workforce. We still have a lot to learn. In fact, one important characteristic of grow your own programs is continued evolution based on feedback and results.

Other important criteria for effective grow your own programs:

Responsive Curriculum

Pushing non-traditional candidates, or high school students, into existing higher education programs that are designed to churn out white middle class candidates is not an effective strategy to change the system.

Grow your own programs must be culturally sustaining, designed specifically for the population they are supporting, and relevant to reality on the ground.

Support Structures

One of the most promising aspects of GYO programs is the reduction in barriers for candidates. This means that both district and university must build intentional support systems to help future teachers navigate structures that are designed to be difficult to navigate.

The best programs seek to limit the complexity of application, financial aid, and licensing on the front end while also providing dedicated support to negotiate these things.

Retention Strategies / Mentoring

Finally, any program that simply installs the new teachers into the profession but doesn’t provide intentional mentoring and targeted retention strategies is simply replicating the failures of the past.

An effective GYO program doesn’t stop when the candidate begins regular employment as a teacher. Mentors. Affinity groups. Opportunities for advancement. All of these things must be built into the GYO program.

Examples of Grow Your Own Programs

Here are some examples of Grow Your Own organizations and programs currently operating or beginning. This is still an area of significant growth for the profession. If you want to learn more about grow your own programs, these links will give you a flavor of the variety of work.

If you’re interested in entering a grow your own program, contact your school district to see if they offer a GYO program.

Disclaimer: I have not deeply researched each of these programs. This is a list, not an endorsement of any specific program.

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Grow Your Own Programs and Resources
Grow Your Own Collective
Grow Your Own Illinois
Fairfax Public Schools
Hamilton County Schools
New Mexico – GYO (educational assistants)
Grow Your Own Texas
Washington State
Seattle Public Schools

Summary: Grow Your Own Teacher Programs

Grow your own programs are a win for all involved. When implemented well with responsive curriculum, supportive structures, and retention strategies they have the potential to create incredible teachers, stronger schools, and connected communities.

Let me know if you have experience with a Grow Your Own Program. How did it go? Are there any GYO programs I missed that I should include in the examples above? Comment below.

If you dive into a grow your own program, check out these resources to help you get a teaching job:

  • Teacher Interview Questions
  • Teacher Letter of Recommendation
  • Interview Tips for Teachers


What is the grow your own teacher model? ›

Grow-your-own (GYO) teacher programs recruit and train teachers from within communities to bring racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity and skills such as bilingualism into schools.

What is the grow your own teacher program in Florida? ›

This "Grow Your Own" program provides financial assistance for paraprofessionals who are currently working in Florida's public schools to earn a degree in special education, deaf education, or visual disabilities.

What is the Grow Your Own teacher Program Massachusetts? ›

The Grow Your Own Teachers initiative is an innovative partnership of community organizations, higher education institutions, and school districts that helps parents, community members, and paraprofessionals in low-income communities become highly qualified teachers.

What is the grow your own teacher program in Ohio? ›

This program proposed four-year scholarships worth up to $7,500 per year to eligible high school students and district employees who committed to teaching in a qualifying school—one that was operated by the same district from which they graduated or where they were employed, and where at least 50 percent of students ...

What are the 4 stages of self directed learning? ›

As a means of better understanding the processes involved in this mode of study, this Teaching Tip outlines key components of four key stages to independent learning, known as self-directed learning: being ready to learn, setting learning goals, engaging in the learning process, and evaluating learning.

What is the growth mindset theory of teaching? ›

A growth mindset allows students to see challenges and failures as separate from their actual competency or personality, therefore students with a growth mindset tend to benefit from mistakes and feedback, seek help when they need it, and learn from failure (Dweck, 2017).

How much does a homeschool teacher get paid in Florida? ›

How much does a Homeschool Teacher make in Florida? As of Apr 12, 2023, the average annual pay for a Homeschool Teacher in Florida is $41,165 a year. Just in case you need a simple salary calculator, that works out to be approximately $19.79 an hour. This is the equivalent of $791/week or $3,430/month.

What is the highest paying county in Florida for teachers? ›

Among Florida school districts with "A" grades, the average salary paid to teachers ranged from a high of $59,000 in Collier County Public Schools to the lowest average pay listed for Clay County School District at about $43,000, according to Niche.

How much is a teachers salary in Florida? ›

Florida Teacher's Starting Salary for the 2022 to 2023 school year is between $44,500 and $55,177 for a beginning teacher with a Bachelor's degree and no experience. Teachers in Florida earn an average salary of $58,568 a year.

What does grow your own mean? ›

What Does Grow Your Own Mean? The term 'grow your own' is a common way to express the fact that you are a gardener and prefer to grow your own vegetables, fruits, herbs, and medicine. 'Grow your own' is considered a colloquial expression relating to gardening, especially organic gardening.

Who funds teach for All? ›

The organization has global hubs in New York, Washington, London, Doha, Pune, and Hong Kong. It has an annual budget of $19.9 million provided by global foundations, corporations, and individuals.

How much does a mass DOE teacher get paid? ›

How much does a Public School Teacher make in Massachusetts? The average Public School Teacher salary in Massachusetts is $61,122 as of February 27, 2023, but the range typically falls between $51,045 and $74,538.

What is West Virginia Grow Your Own teacher Program? ›

The Grow Your Own Pathway gives students a fast-track into the education field through a combination of dual enrollment/Advanced Placement courses and an accelerated pathway. Students can then graduate with a bachelor's degree in just three years.

What do you get with TPT school access? ›

TPT School Access is a school-funded subscription from TPT that gives your entire school access to a library of over 4 million TpT resources for immediate use. A principal or administrator can purchase a school subscription with a simple, annual payment.

Can you teach in Ohio without a teaching license? ›

To work as a teacher in Ohio, aspiring educators must obtain Ohio teacher certification. The Ohio Department of Education oversees the licensing process, which is outlined below for those looking to learn how to become a teacher in Ohio.

What are 3 examples of self-directed learning? ›

Without taking a formal course, you have a variety of options: read a book, download a recipe, or ask someone. And within hours or a few weeks, you have figured it out — pretty much all on your own. These are all examples of self-learning.

What is the 4 step model of teaching? ›

Peyton's teaching approach is a stepwise teaching approach and consists of the following four steps: demonstration, deconstruction, comprehension and performance.

What are all 4 learning styles? ›

There are 4 predominant learning styles: Visual, Auditory, Read/Write, and Kinaesthetic. While most of us may have some general idea about how we learn best, often it comes as a surprise when we discover what our predominant learning style is.

What is a good teacher mindset? ›

5 attributes of a teacher with a growth mindset:

They take responsibility for improving their practice. They see setbacks and feedback as an opportunity to learn and grow their skills. They actively seek learning opportunities and new challenges. They have positive and high expectations of their students.

How can teachers implement growth mindset? ›

Teach the values of challenges

Explaining the inherent benefits of overcoming obstacles can help students develop a growth mindset, according to Dr. Dweck. She specifically recommends teaching about the effect on the brain when people push through their comfort zones to grasp difficult concepts.

How do you teach a teacher growth mindset? ›

Building a Growth Mindset for Teachers
  1. Practice #1: Never stop growing. “Undertake something that is difficult, it will do you good. ...
  2. Practice #2: Experiment and innovate. ...
  3. Practice #3: Ask questions. ...
  4. Practice #4: Be flexible. ...
  5. Practice #5: Learn new technology. ...
  6. Practice #6: Truly listen. ...
  7. Practice #7: Reflect, reflect, reflect.

Where are the highest paid teachers in Florida? ›

Polk County teachers, make $46,151 on average. Sarasota County's teachers are also the highest paid educators in the state, on average.

Can homeschool moms sell on teachers pay teachers? ›

Yes! TPT has a large homeschooler community — and there are thousands of resources tagged for homeschool instruction. You can discover these resources by applying the Homeschool filter to your search. We also accept purchase orders from several homeschooling organizations.

How many hours a day is required for homeschooling in Florida? ›

Unless you hire a certified tutor to homeschool your child (option 3 above), you don't need to worry about Florida homeschooling hour or day requirements. There are none! You don't have to keep attendance records or log a certain number of days or hours of instruction.

Is there a shortage of teachers in Florida? ›

Florida's public schools continue to deal with a shortage of teachers. Vacancies have doubled in the Sunshine State over the last two years, and it's estimated more than 100,000 students do not have a full-time teacher.

Does Florida pay teachers more for a Masters? ›

While teachers with a bachelor's degree and minimal experience earn a base salary of $39,670, Florida teacher salary can increase to $59,050 for educators with a master's degree and 20+ years of experience.

How much is a teachers pension in Florida? ›

Florida for each dollar invested by Florida taxpayers in FRS. Employees contribute 3% of salary out of each paycheck to the pension fund. The average retirement benefit is $18,625 per year, or $1,552 per month. FRS covers 623,011 active school employees and 334,682 retirees and beneficiaries.

How much does a 1st year teacher earn in Florida? ›

How much does a First Grade Teacher make in Florida? The average First Grade Teacher salary in Florida is $54,320 as of March 28, 2023, but the range typically falls between $44,570 and $65,601.

Do teachers get paid in the summer in Florida? ›

Most teachers do not get paid over summer break, but teachers can usually choose to receive their paychecks over 10 months or 12 months. Many teachers take a prorated salary to keep a steady income throughout the calendar year.

Do Florida teachers get retirement? ›

Under the FRS Pension Plan, normal retirement is the time you are first eligible to receive an unreduced retirement benefit based on your age or years of service. You have 30 years of creditable service before age 62. You have 33 years of creditable service before age 65.

What is the teacher model? ›

What is Teacher Modeling? Teacher modeling is achieved through demonstrations and narrations. The teacher may specifically show the student how to complete an activity or narrate their actions to provide insights into the type of thought processes that go into completing different tasks and activities.

What three ways you can begin to model a growth mindset as an educator? ›

10 Ways teachers can foster a growth mindset in students
  • Avoid praising intelligence and sheer effort. ...
  • Use diverse teaching strategies. ...
  • Introduce simple gamification elements. ...
  • Teach the values of challenges. ...
  • Encourage students to expand their answers. ...
  • Explain the purposes of abstract skills and concepts.
May 24, 2022

What is the teacher leader model? ›

The Teacher Leader Model Standards—like all model standards—are designed to stimulate dialogue among stakeholders of the teaching profession about what constitutes the knowledge, skills, and competencies that teachers need to assume leadership roles in their schools, districts, and the profession.

What are the 4 models of effective teaching? ›

The 4 major teacher evaluation models and what they can do
  • The Value-Added Model (VAM) In basic terms, VAM measures how a certain teacher contributes to the progress of their students. ...
  • Teacher observations. ...
  • The Framework Model. ...
  • The Marzano Focused Teacher Evaluation Model.
Oct 29, 2018

What are the 5 models of effective teaching? ›

In the contemporary classroom, five distinct teaching styles have emerged as the primary strategies adopted by modern teachers: The Authority Style, The Delegator Style, The Facilitator Style, The Demonstrator Style and The Hybrid Style.

What is the 5 teaching model? ›

o The 5Es represent five stages of a sequence for teaching and learning: Engage, Explore, Explain, Extend (or Elaborate), and Evaluate. personally involved in the lesson, while pre-assessing prior understanding. o During this experience, students first encounter and identify the instructional task.

Why you should grow your own? ›

When you grow your own food, you not only minimize waste, you double the amount of food in your garden (without having to plant more plants) because you can harvest and use the entire vegetable from top to tail. (And that goes back to the first reason: growing food can save you money, sometimes in unexpected ways).

What is it called when you grow your own produce? ›

Horticulture: In the strictest sense horticulture might be defined as the activity of growing flowers, fruits, vegetables, tropical, native and other ornamental plants, or the science or art of cultivating a garden.

How do you encourage teachers to have a growth mindset? ›

The following strategies and tips can help educators foster a growth mindset in the classroom:
  1. Normalize struggle. ...
  2. Encourage engagement with challenges. ...
  3. Embrace the word “yet”. ...
  4. Tout the value of hard tasks to the brain. ...
  5. Demonstrate mistakes and celebrate corrections. ...
  6. Set goals. ...
  7. Develop cooperative exercises.
Dec 10, 2020

What are the 4 key ingredients to a growth mindset? ›

Embracing challenges, working through obstacles, valuing effort, learning from criticism and finding inspirations are natural to Growth mindset.

What are 4 ways to develop a growth mindset? ›

10 ways to develop a growth mindset
  • Identify your own mindset. ...
  • Look at your own improvements. ...
  • Review the success of others. ...
  • Seek feedback. ...
  • Harness the power of 'yet' ...
  • Learn something new. ...
  • Make mistakes. ...
  • Be kind to yourself.
Apr 25, 2022

What is the best leadership style for a teacher? ›

The authoritative leadership style is one of the most effective leadership styles in education. These leaders are fair and consistent. They also have high expectations for their students and expect them to meet those expectations. They also provide feedback to their students so they can improve their performance.

What is a good leader teacher? ›

Having an open mind, courage, humility, flexibility and a passion for learning are a few traits successful teacher leaders exhibit. Since teachers communicate and interact with students on a daily basis, they can make the best decisions for students and their learning process.

What is the four factor model of teacher leadership? ›

The four-factor model consists of the following factors: Sharing Expertise, Sharing Leadership, Supra- Practitioner, and Principal Selection.


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