The consortium is led by the Orange County Department of Education and includes the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools, along with the Butte and Imperial county offices of education.
Together, the consortium was given funding to assist 600 classified school employees who aspire to become classroom teachers but still need to complete the necessary academic requirements. As of the first week of December, there were about 155 remaining spots.
Grant participants in the program can receive up to $3,500 per year of financial assistance for degree and credentialing-related expenses such as tuition, fees, books, examination costs, academic guidance and other forms of individualized assistance to help them complete their undergraduate education.
The consortium pairs grant recipients with educational advisors who will mentor and guide them through the process of passing credential exams and assessments. To meet this goal, the counties have developed online courses and resources that prepare candidates for the California Basic Educational Skills Test, the California Subject Examination for Teachers, the Reading Instruction Competence Assessment and the California Teacher Performance Assessment.
“We work with each participant on an individual basis and create a roadmap that takes them through each step toward getting credentialed,” says Ana Barron, OCDE’s program data technician.
Classified employees from districts across Orange County don’t need to have a bachelor’s degree or be currently enrolled in a credential program to apply for the grant, but they do need to meet certain eligibility requirements. For example, all applicants must:
Be employed as a classified employee at a school district or county office
Have completed a minimum of 60 units or have an associate degree
Have a cumulative GPA of 2.75
Secure two letters of recommendation
Complete a personal statement
Provide unofficial transcripts from all colleges attended
The consortium has opened enrollment and is currently accepting applications to fill the remaining spots. Anyone interested in applying should contact their human resources department or department supervisors.
One could say that Barron is close to reaching her “full circle moment” as she is about six months away from earning her teaching credential.
The program data technician for the department, who is part of the team overseeing the county’s classified employee grant process, began her journey in 2018 after she earned a bachelor’s degree.
“This experience gave me a different perspective,” Barron said. “I already had the passion for teaching, but then I developed a passion for helping individuals who want to become educators.”
While she hasn’t officially earned her teaching credential yet, Barron has received a preliminary single subject credential for biological sciences and the authorization to teach the subject in Spanish.