Gov. Janet Mills announced this week that her administration has awarded six school districts and educational institutions – including the Portland Public Schools – a total of $985,000 to recruit, train, and retain educators through pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship pilot programs. PPS has been awarded $250,000.
The awards will be used to train nearly 200 new and existing educators across the state, according to a news release from governor’s office. The programs will focus on providing pathways for underrepresented groups – multilingual individuals, people with disabilities, people of color and rural communities – to increase representation among Maine's educator workforce, the release said.
“The Maine Department of Education is committed to ensuring that everyone who wants to become a teacher in Maine has a pathway into the profession and is supported in the classroom. Teacher apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships offer a meaningful pathway to recruit, prepare, and support aspiring educators and we are excited to see these programs expanded across our state,” Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin said in a statement.
“The Portland Public Schools is grateful and excited to receive this award,” said Superintendent Ryan Scallon. “It will help us in our initiative to recruit a more racially representative educator workforce, which we know powerfully impacts our diverse student body.”
Julia Hazel, the district’s Director of BIPOC Career Pathways and Leadership Development, said that the funding will enable the district “to expand our Elevating Educators program, a supported, tiered pathway to teaching.”
She explained that “this program is differentiated to meet educational technicians wherever they are on their career pathway towards becoming a teacher. It offers professional development and training opportunities, degree completion, teacher credentialing guidance and coursework, student teaching opportunities, and mentoring and coaching opportunities.”
The district’s partnerships will include the Portland Adult Education’s Education Academy, the Community College system, and the University of Maine system, she said.
The initiative is funded in part by Governor Mills' Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan and is part of a larger effort by the Mills administration to connect employers with a skilled workforce and workers with career opportunities, the release said. Educator apprenticeship programs already exist in the state, but these awards will help expand those opportunities.
The six districts and educational institutions receiving awards are:
● Brunswick School Department - $105,000
● MSAD 1 / RSU #79 - $75,000
● Portland Public Schools - $250,000
● RSU #34 - $249,000
● University of Maine Farmington - $144,000
● University of Southern Maine - $162,00
The Portland Public Schools is Maine’s largest school district, with more than 6,600 students, and it’s also the most diverse. About one-third of the district’s students come from homes where languages other than English are spoken—a total of 53 languages. Approximately 48 percent of the district’s students are white and 52 percent are students of color. Nearly half of PPS students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals.