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Pennsbury plans to “grow” a new batch of teachers


Like other school districts, Pennsbury has tried over the past few years to recruit teachers, who have been in short supply since the pandemic.

Now it’s taking a new approach called “Grow Our Own.” The seeds are to be planted Monday with a Teacher Apprenticeship Program “signing day.”

Pennsbury will be the first district in Bucks County to use an approach the district says is similar to one initiated by the Allentown City School District, said district spokeswoman Jennifer Neill.

The apprenticeship program will provide subsidies to members of the district’s support staff, who have an associate’s degree and want to pursue a bachelor’s degree which would allow them to become teachers.

“This pathway ensures that eligible employees can further their education and step into teaching roles without the financial burden often accompanying degree completion,” Neill said.

A second pathway is also being offered called the Teacher Preparation Reimbursement Incentive. Support staff members who already have a bachelor’s degree — a traditional requirement for the teaching profession — would be helped to obtain the other needed requirements for certification, like practice teaching.

Pennsbury Human Resource Director Cherrisa Gibson said, “Investing in the local talent already within Pennsbury is crucial in addressing the teacher shortage.” She added that support staff members are “dedicated and passionate about education and the students of Pennsbury” so these programs will help them grow within the district.

In April, the Pennsbury School Board approved the apprenticeship program in partnership with BloomBoard, a Pittsburgh-based firm that specializes in helping school districts “grow, advance and retain educators.”

Currently, there are four support staff members who will participate in the apprenticeship program and another three who are eligible for the tuition reimbursement program for teacher training.

Pennsbury has 671 support staff members and 873 teachers. The “Grow Our Own” participants would be required to work for Pennsbury for three years after obtaining their teacher certifications.

The district, which serves Tullytown and Yardley boroughs and Falls and Lower Makefield townships, has an enrollment of approximately 9,686 students in 14 schools. It is in the process of planning a major construction project to build a new high school on the current high school campus in Falls. The new school, expected to cost approximately $250 million, has an expected opening date of winter 2029.

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