ALEXANDRIA — Alexandria Community School Corp. will partner with Indiana University Kokomo to provide an opportunity for district paraprofessionals to become certified teachers at minimal cost to them.

During Monday’s school board meeting, Superintendent Melissa Brisco said those entering the program will have up to 75% of their tuition covered via the partnership.

An informational meeting will be at 3:15 p.m. Thursday at Alexandria-Monroe Elementary School.

As of Tuesday, Brisco said seven paraprofessionals had expressed interest, and that number was up to 10 Wednesday.

“We have some really talented paraprofessionals that work with kids today, and wouldn’t it be awesome if we could find a way to help those that are interested get their teaching degree,” Brisco said in a separate interview.

Leah Nellis, senior adviser in Kokomo, IU regional campus K-12 initiative, said the program is funded through a state Attract, Prepare, Retain Grant. Though no official expiration date has been decided, she said it will likely run through the summer semester 2024.

Alexandria is one of five school corporations partnering with IUK, said Nellis; The others are Elwood, Frankfort, Kokomo and Logansport.

About 120 credit hours are required for a bachelor’s in education, which Nellis said typically takes four years to complete, but it could vary depending on a paraprofessional’s schedule.

This program is designed to let working people pursue a degree.

Brisco said both institutions have collaborated for Tomorrow’s Teachers, a program in which high school juniors and seniors can get a jump start on their education degree; and a grant that lets student teachers in the district be paid in hopes that they’ll join the teaching staff.

Brisco hopes these programs will help protect Alexandria from falling prey to the national teacher shortage. As of Tuesday, the district was fully staffed.
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