Peoria Public Schools has approved an agreement with Rockford University to establish a pipeline master program.
The new program will create space for up to 25 teachers from District 150 to participate in a two-year cohort to receive a master’s degree in urban education. Each course in the program is designed to align with district demographics and goals, and participants must remain in the district for at least two years after graduation.
Superintendent Dr Sharon Kherat said the program will enable the district to tackle the staffing shortage from within.
“Just as we have our teacher pipeline, we are also proactive in having our own administrative pipeline to develop,” Kherat said.
District 150 has agreed to cover 90% of the cost of the program, and each participant’s personal financial responsibility is expected to be $270 per semester.
Annie Baddoo, coordinator of the graduate program in urban education at Rockford University, says this financial commitment is essential because it removes a major barrier for many people who otherwise could not afford a master’s program.
“We believe the best teachers and the best leaders in our districts are in our schools, in our communities,” Baddoo said. “We see this as an opportunity to partner with the districts to serve and create a program that meets the specific needs of Peoria.”
Baddoo also highlighted the support network the program creates for its participants, especially at a time when school districts across the country are facing a variety of challenges, from staffing shortages to socio-emotional barriers.
“Part of the reason people leave the field is that it can be lonely to be a leader,” Baddoo said. “When you spend two years with people you develop your leadership ability [with]…you have this whole built-in support system of people who care about the community, know the community, and can help you through any unique challenges you might face at your school.
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