CMU Online Empowers Educators

Ionia Public Schools Partners with CMU for 'Grow Your Own' Teaching Initiative

| Author: Jaime Griffis | Media Contact: Jaime Griffis

For Jennifer Campbell, a teacher from Ionia Public Schools, this past year has been a whirlwind.  Jennifer and several of her colleagues find themselves on the brink of an exciting new chapter as they pursue no-cost teaching degrees at Central Michigan University. This opportunity comes courtesy of Michigan’s Department of Education "Grow Your Own" initiative. Designed to address the critical shortages of certified PK-12 classroom teachers in Michigan, the “Grow Your Own” initiative provides grants to current staff seeking teaching certifications, additional endorsements, or master’s degrees. 

Dr. Kaleb Patrick, Interim Vice President for Innovation and Online at Central Michigan University, emphasized the institution's commitment to education, stating, "Amidst the rapid changes, CMU's enduring legacy as a teacher’s college uniquely positions us to contribute significantly to Michigan schools. The 'Grow Your Own' initiative seamlessly aligns with our commitment to delivering quality education, empowering current staff to advance their careers and make positive impacts within our communities. Through CMU Online, we broaden the reach of this transformative education, ensuring that our students undergo a quality learning experience, even from a distance." 

James Nuse, Director of Special Education at Ionia Public Schools, expressed pride in the collaboration opportunities facilitated by the Grow Your Own grant. "Specifically, we are excited to be working with CMU in order to prepare high quality, well-rounded special educators. Through this partnership, IPS is currently expanding the expertise and qualifications of current staff members interested in receiving training in special education," he said. 

Brianna Thurlby, another beneficiary of the program, expressed similar sentiments: "I always told myself that I would go and get my master’s degree if the opportunity arose. Through the Grow Your Own program, I was able to get my master's degree while working, and it has been very beneficial that I am able to learn new things and apply them to the classes I am teaching now. Being able to be in an online cohort has been nice as I have a coworker who is in the same cohort and we are able to talk with each other about the work, and we have been able to keep the same group as our previous class so working with the same people is helpful because we are familiar with each other. I am so thankful for this opportunity to further my education." 

Superintendent Gurk emphasized the importance of the Grow Your Own grant and the partnership with CMU in achieving the Ionia Public Schools strategic plan’s shared vision of success in recruiting and retaining high-quality staff. "We are grateful for the continued support of CMU and our extraordinary educators," he said. 

The collaboration between Central Michigan University and Ionia Public Schools exemplifies a proactive approach to addressing teacher shortages and empowering dedicated professionals to advance their careers while making a positive impact on education in Michigan.

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