Last item for navigation
Expanded Future Educators program supports next generation of teachers
Expanded Future Educators program supports next generation of teachers
Posted on 11/05/2021
Future Educator working with an elementary student

Cara Parker remembers how the Utica Community Schools Future Educator Program created the spark that inspired her to become a teacher.

“I always knew I wanted to be an educator, but this experience ‘sealed the deal’ for me,” said Parker, a fourth grade teacher at Dresden Elementary. “It was a pretty awesome feeling walking into my first field placement at MSU already feeling comfortable working in a classroom-- not only did I feel comfortable, I felt confident.”

This year, UCS is focused on creating that spark and confidence in the next generation of teachers through an expanded Future Educators program.

The goal is to address a shortage of educators by providing UCS students with a clear pathway and experiences that will lead them to a successful career in education.

“We want to encourage the brightest and the best into teaching for UCS and we want to retain them once hired,” said Karen Chaffee, a Future Educators instructor. “Teacher and paraprofessional and child care workers are all in demand; our students will have no trouble finding jobs.”

Some of the changes that include:

  • Creating a Babysitting 101 youth enrichment program to engage younger students;
  • Integrating information about Future Educators in the district’s Family and Consumer Science curriculum;
  • Providing future Child Development Associate (CDA) or Michigan Youth Development Associate (Mi YDA) credentials, which they can finish the summer after graduation to support their undergraduate degree. The certifications make UCS graduates career marketable to earn them a higher pay rate.
  • Updating course content, including providing background on Social-Emotional Learning, Trauma Informed Youth and Michigan Virtual modules.

Nataliah Moyet, current Henry Ford II senior and future teacher, said the wide range of experiences means she is well on her way to becoming an effective teacher. It is a career that will allow her to support struggling students find success, particularly when it comes to literacy skills.

“I love working with kids,” Moyet said. “I know I will be making a difference.”

A recent national study by the Learning Policy Institute found that more than 100,000 teachers were needed in K-12 schools, and an estimated 270,000 educators would be leaving the profession by 2026.

The Future Educator program is addressing that gap by giving students practical experience in the positive impact they can have in teaching. It is impact that is still felt by the UCS teachers who started their careers as a Future Educator.

There was always a strong emphasis placed on engaging students and building relationships with them,” said UCS Literacy coach Mrs. Sarah McCormick. I still feel strongly today that the most impactful learning takes place, after a relationship has been built and a connection has been made.

As for returning back to their home district, the former Future -now current - Educators said they are committed to instilling the same care and excellence that guided them toward their is careers.

“I was born and raised in Utica Community Schools,” said Sophia Hall. "My dad has been an educator in the district for over 27 years. My heart belongs to the district where I am excited to start my career.”