RSAI coordinated the submission of a grant request to Iowa Workforce Development and the Iowa Department of Education by the Cherokee Community School District on behalf of 30 RSAI member districts, under the Teacher and Paraeducator Registered Apprenticeship (TPRA) funding to grow the education workforce through Registered Apprenticeship programs and expand the teacher workforce in rural Iowa.
The grant submission requested funding for high-school-to-paraeducator apprentices and paraeducator-to-teacher apprentices, prioritizing underrepresented populations to increase the diversity of Iowa's education workforce. Both pathways include coursework with partner institutions and on-the-job training in a district classroom. For the high-school students, participants will partner with Iowa's community colleges, with whom districts already have existing relationships. For the paraeducators, districts will partner with Western Governors University Teachers College. Cherokee Community School District will serve as the fiduciary agent for the grant, and RSAI will assist districts with compiling and housing data and reporting requirements under the grant, as well as bring together participating districts for collaboration and interactions to support one another. RSAI will work to assist districts in developing a registered apprenticeship program, if they do not already have one, and with recruiting regional and community college partners to implement and support the registered apprenticeship portion of the program. RSAI will also work to provide districts with the availability of other options to support additional paraeducators into a teaching profession should local and state demands exceed our expectations. As a reminder, districts can participate in more than one consortium, should you have the opportunity.
RSAI will assist the collaboration to maximize the efficiency of financial supports and scholarships available to participants to ensure as many participants from RSAI member districts can be brought on board. The grant was submitted on behalf of the 30 districts that submitted Participation Commitment Letters. Should the collaboration receive funding and the grant allows it, additional RSAI member districts may be able to participate. We have established a waitlist for districts interested in participating. Email RSAI to be added to the waitlist.
Calamus Wheatland CSD
Cherokee CSD - fiscal agent
Coon Rapids Bayard CSD
Eagle Grove CSD
East Marshall CSD
East Mills CSD
Mt. Ayr CSD
Nodaway Valley CSD
River Valley CSD
South Page CSD
Most rural districts did not have 10 willing participants, so developing a consortium makes sense for many RSAI members. WGU assisted RSAI members with preparing and submitting the grant. If funded, districts will need to approve MOUs with WGU and/or community colleges related to the consortium. Districts will need to coordinate with the district that serves as the point of contact and fiduciary for the grant (RSAI will work with that district as necessary to provide support in those responsibilities).
RSAI is working with Western Governor's University (WGU) on the paraeducator-to-teacher apprentice track. WGU is already a provider of virtual education for adults toward teacher degrees for BA or Masters, has content in shortage areas such as special education, math, science and elementary education (and others). They have a competency-based system, which means that those with more classroom experience and expertise can move along pretty quickly to attain their degree.
RSAI received letters of support for Iowa community colleges to partner with districts on the high-school-to-paraeducator apprentice track, as most districts already have long-established relationships with their local college on other programs.
RSAI held an initial webinar in March 2022 to discuss the grant with RSAI member districts, and introduce those interested in the Paraeducator-to-Teacher Registered Apprenticeship Program to our new partners at Western Governors University (WGU). The Webinar was on March 2, 2022. View Accompanying PPT and Webinar Recording if you missed it.
Interested RSAI members returned Participation Commitment Agreement to RSAI due on March 24, 2022, to be included in the grant submission.
Contact RSAI with any questions or to learn more.
Participating districts in the TPRA grant program should be reviewing the work process schedules linked below for the two grant tracks. Meetings will be coordinated soon with participating districts, their Community College and University higher education partner(s), and Iowa Workforce Development to review the specifics. These work process schedules will be incorporated into the MOU between participating districts and their higher education partner(s) and then submitted to IWD and the Iowa Department of Education.
Most districts under the Cherokee Consortium participating in the Para to Teacher Track are planning to work with WGU. When students enroll, they need to identify themselves as participants under the "Iowa TPRA Grant Program." Districts are encouraged to share the student contact information with the WGU Enrollment Team. See resources that can be shared with potential WGU students for the Para to Teacher track.