IU Northwest, Gary schools partner to bolster teacher qualifications in region’s first-of-its kind program

IU Northwest, Gary schools partner to bolster teacher qualifications in region’s first-of-its kind program
By: Indiana University Northwest Last Updated: June 4, 2020

Thanks to an unprecedented partnership between Indiana University Northwest’s School of Education and the Gary Community School Corporation (GCSC), teachers who are working in Gary schools on an emergency permit, can enroll in a special program to become fully licensed teachers in 18-24 months.

When a school system is experiencing a teacher shortage, it can ask individuals who hold at least a bachelor’s degree in any field to apply for a permit from the state to teach in a content area. The permit is good for two years, and is renewable once, but to keep teaching, the individual must return to school and earn a license.

In Gary, this scenario describes about 10 percent of the teachers, so Paige McNulty, GCSC’s interim emergency manager, came to Mark Sperling, IU Northwest’s Dean of the School of the Education, to discuss a partnership that would equip these teachers with the licenses they need for long-term positions, and the students the fully qualified educators they deserve.

GCSC has decided to use a portion of its Title I funds to pay the fees associated with enrolling qualified applicants in the mild intervention program, the newly created elementary licensure program, special education, and secondary program, which has been newly revised to meet the specific needs of the Gary Teachers Cohort. IU Northwest plans to look at adding new programs as the need arises.

An initial group of 30 teachers will enter one of the many educational licensure programs in various content areas that will be starting this summer and fall, Sperling said, and the faculty continues to evaluate the transcripts of candidates for future semester admissions. To be considered for the program, applicants must have an emergency license as a teacher in Gary, meet admission requirements for the IU Northwest School of Education, and agree to continue to teach in Gary for three years after receiving licensure.

Sperling is excited about the relationship with the GCSC and the possibilities it presents in strengthening education in Gary while also giving teachers the professional development they desire. If they choose to continue and pursue an additional three to four classes, depending on the program, the teachers could leave the program with a master’s degree after 24 months.

“I feel so positive about our relationship with the Gary schools,” Sperling said. “This program will undoubtedly result in strengthened academic achievement in Gary by ensuring teachers are fully invested in the education of their students. These are the folks who are committed to being the best teacher they can be and are eager to meet all qualifications to become fully licensed.”

McNulty said the GCSC is committed to removing the barriers that prohibit talented teachers from earning their certifications and the corporation will continue to help teachers earn additional training.

“This is a win for all of us, because it ensures that our students receive quality instruction delivered by certified faculty,” she said. “The best way to improve Gary schools’ academic standing is to have fully licensed teachers in front of students. Teachers working on emergency permits in Gary have the ambition to become better educators, and to work in an urban setting. Thanks to this agreement, we can give them those tools and in doing so, the quality of education in Gary will improve.”

Sperling said that applicants from GCSC are still being accepted and in the future, the program will be extended to other school systems in need.

To apply, or for more information, contact the IU Northwest School of Education at 219-980-6510 or email Dr. Sperling at masperli@iun.edu.

About Indiana University Northwest

One of eight campuses of Indiana University, IU Northwest is located in metropolitan Northwest Indiana, approximately 30 miles southeast of Chicago and 10 miles from the Indiana Dunes National Park. The campus has a diverse student population of approximately 4,000 degree-seeking students and 1,500 dual-credit students. The campus offers Associate, Baccalaureate and Master’s degrees in a variety of undergraduate, graduate and pre-professional degree options available from the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Health and Human Services, the School of Business and Economics, the School of the Arts and the School of Education. The campus is also host to IU School of Medicine-Northwest-Gary, which actively involves students in research and local healthcare needs through its four-year medical doctorate program. IU Northwest emphasizes high-quality teaching, faculty and student research and engagement on campus and in the community. As a student-centered campus, IU Northwest is committed to academic excellence characterized by a love of ideas and achievement in learning, discovery, creativity and engagement. Indiana University Northwest is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer committed to achieving excellence through diversity. The University actively encourages applications from women, minorities, veterans, persons with disabilities, and members of other underrepresented groups.