WCU partners with public school districts on “Grow Your Own”

William Carey University signed “Grow Your Own” partnership agreements with eight public school superintendents Dec. 2 to help fight Mississippi’s critical teacher shortage.

“Grow Your Own” allows K-12 public school districts to select students for a fast-track WCU program that will enable them to earn a bachelor’s degree in elementary education in three years through a combination of dual enrollment classes, an accelerated schedule and tuition waivers.

“Most school districts, with only a few exceptions, have vacancies for teachers they were unable to fill. We’re trying to give school districts and students the resources and support they need to bridge the gap,” said WCU President Dr. Tommy King.

WCU advisors help “Grow Your Own” students register for dual enrollment classes during high school. As a result, at the point they collect high school diplomas, they’ve also earned 12 dual enrollment credits.

Next, students begin a demanding first-year schedule with William Carey that satisfies all the university’s core requirements. During this time, K-12 partner districts make arrangements for the students they’re sponsoring to work as K-3 teacher assistants in district schools during their second and third years of college.

In the second and third years, students take classes and work as teacher assistants. This has several benefits: 1) they enter the state retirement system early; 2) they earn an income while working on their degrees; and 3) they qualify for 50 percent tuition waivers from WCU.

At the end of their third year, students graduate with a bachelor’s degree. Participating school districts agree to give hiring preference for teaching positions, when possible, to WCU graduates of the “Grow Your Own” program.

Dr. Ben Burnett, WCU’s executive vice president and retired K-12 school superintendent, said the university will continue its “Grow Your Own” outreach to K-12 school superintendents all over the state. School districts interested in pursuing a partnership with WCU should contact him at bburnett@wmcarey.edu.  For a complete description of the program, click here.