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The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa College of Education (COE) Grow Our Own Teachers Initiative has been renewed and will be recruiting its fifth cohort for the spring 2022 semester. As with previous cohorts, scholarship stipends will be available for students admitted into the Master of Education in Teaching Secondary program for fall 2021 or who have applied to the Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Teacher Education (PBCTE) secondary program or PBCTE elementary program for spring 2022.

“I am grateful for the generous support provided by the Grow Our Own initiative and stipend,” shared Tina Thi Huynh-Nguyen, a current PBCTE secondary student. “It is truly enabling me to pursue my dreams and ambitions. Spring 2022 will be the semester when I can proudly say that I am the first from my entire family to graduate college with a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and a certificate to teach.”

“I am continually struck by how often Grow Our Own students speak of how this program supports their dreams of using teaching to give back to the communities in which they were raised or now live and work,” said Kirsten Mawyer, director of the Institute for Teacher Education Secondary Program. “I have been touched by the ways in which these recipients articulate their gratitude that the state is investing in them so that they can, in turn, invest their energy and passion into the keiki and ʻōpio (next generation) who will become Hawaiʻi’s future leaders and stewards.”

The new cohort of candidates will graduate in May 2023 and be eligible to apply for teacher licensure from the Hawaiʻi Teacher Standards Board. As part of their commitment, they will be required to teach full time for at least three years for the Hawaiʻi Department of Education (HIDOE) or charter schools in the state. Through a rigorous application process, HIDOE employees who serve as emergency hires, substitute teachers, or educational assistants are given priority. Priority is also given to teacher shortage areas in Hawaiian language, world languages, English, mathematics and science. Applications for the Grow Our Own initiative are due October 1, 2021.

“Grow Our Own means to me to ‘pay it forward,’” stated fellow PBCTE secondary student Espie Chapman. “I am grateful for the opportunity to give back to my community and future leaders of the world. The most exciting part of the stipend is that I am going to be offered an educator job in the HIDOE, and I will have a direct impact in shaping the future of education.”

A partnership between the COE and HIDOE, this unique initiative would not be possible without the support of Senator Michele Kidani who has been a major advocate in making teacher licensure accessible for all students and working educators.

Kidani said, “Now, more than ever, we need to ensure that we are preparing the next generation of teachers for our keiki. The Grow Our Own program successfully addresses both the recruitment and retention issues by providing a debt-free avenue for our next generation of school leaders. I am so proud of all our graduates of the program and their commitment to our keiki. A big mahalo to the tremendous work by the UH College of Education and the Hawaiʻi Department of Education for their work in putting this program together.”

For more information on Grow Our Own, contact Marie Guillermo at uhmgoo@hawaii.edu.

By Jennifer Parks