One America Community Efforts
Little Bar

Program: Grow Your Own, Ohio Projects for a Diversified Teaching Force, Ashland, OH
Contact(s): Lowell Smith, Director: (419) 289-5298
Purpose: To increase diversity in the teaching workforce by means of a long-term mentoring relationship with students who possess college potential through early exposure to the university environment

Background Program Operations Outcomes


For over a decade, Doug Castle, principal of the Simpson Middle School in Ashland, Ohio, has organized overnight trips to a local university to expose seventh graders to the prospect of college. With the cooperation of Ashland University, these seventh graders met with college students of similar backgrounds who explained the differences of college life and secondary education and showed them ways in which they would be able to afford college through scholarships, work study and loans. This pool of potential college students also provided the answer to increasing the diversity of Ohio's teaching force. Thus, in 1996 the idea of "growing your own" local teachers was institutionalized by grant funding from the Ohio Department of Education. The program now spans five counties and includes eight Ohio public school districts and Ashland University.

Program Operations

Currently in its third year, the Grow Your Own Program plans to expand the pool of minority and under represented teacher applicants, such as male elementary education teachers, female mathematics teachers and teachers of color in all subjects, and the hiring of the applicants for teaching positions in consortium districts. Each district will target these under represented groups within its seventh grade population. From each targeted seventh grade population, a cohort of 60 students will be selected (30 in winter/spring and 30 in the fall/winter) who have the potential to attend college. Programs and activities will be designed by consortium members to motivate the students as well as nurture the potential of the selected seventh graders. The college visits have expanded to include seven historically black colleges. Parents and guardians of participating students, and interested community groups and agencies will be encouraged to help support the seventh graders. There will be follow-up activities to nurture and sustain interest in returning to the local community throughout college. Support will be continued through high school with Future Educators of America (FEA) chapters, the Camp Attracting Future Educators (CAPE) Summer Camps and other similar activities. Students who attend college teacher preparation programs will return and conduct their teacher preparation and/or teaching experiences in consortium districts. Consortium districts will work to employ the students as teachers in their schools.

Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments

In the third grant year, the program will welcome 700 new seventh graders to join with hundreds of eighth and ninth graders. In the pre-grant years, organizers observed dramatic changes in the students' attitudes towards school, academic achievement and enhanced potential for going on to high school and on to college.

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