Scholarship established to recruit teachers among school employees

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 20, 2019

Rowan-Salisbury Schools

Rowan-Salisbury Schools is tapping into an unconventional source to recruit teachers — its own employees.

“We believe our classified employees are the perfect candidates for teaching positions in our district,” said Kristi Rhone, chief human resources officer. “They are passionate about our students, have hands-on experience in our schools, and are active members of our community.”

The system is encouraging employees such as teacher assistants, custodians, bus drivers, office staff and other employees without a teaching license to further their careers as teachers.

“There’s a teacher shortage in North Carolina, so we have to think differently about hiring. Our classified employees have proven their dedication to our students. We just need to help them get the training they need to become licensed teachers,” Rhone said.

The district has partnered with Gardner-Webb University and Western Governors University to provide two teacher preparation programs for adult learners with different needs. Both programs are fully online, provide mentors and have reduced the cost for students employed by Rowan-Salisbury Schools.

RSS is also offering five $2,000 scholarships to full-time classified employees who are enrolled in one of those teacher preparation programs. In addition, all teacher assistants will be eligible to continue to receive their salary throughout student teaching experience.

“Going back to school is expensive, and we know that most of our classified employees don’t have the money to pay out of pocket. So we wanted to find a way to eliminate as many hurdles for them as possible,” Rhone said.

Any full-time classified employee in the district can apply for the scholarship, funded by a grant from the Robertson Foundation. Winners will be selected through an interview process and will be announced in late September. In return, scholarship recipients commit to work in a high-needs school in the district for at least two years after graduation.

“We’re excited to provide this opportunity that not only benefits our classified employees and their families but also our students and local economy,” Rhone said.