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Richfield Public Schools Awarded Nearly $150k Minnesota Department of Education Grant

Superintendent Steve Unowsky got good news late last year - the Minnesota Department of Education informed him the district was awarded nearly $150,000 in a state grant for teacher education.


The grant, called the Grow Your Own Grant (GYO), provides dollars to districts that are dedicated to increasing the number of educators of color to serve students. Research continues to show that teachers of color, serving all students, help to eliminate the opportunity gap for students of color.


This grant has two pathways:  Pathway I provides assistance to adults who currently have (or are just shy of) a bachelors degree in a different field and want to become a teacher.  Funding would be provided to help them earn a masters degree in education. The Richfield district is partnering with the University of Minnesota on this pathway.  Staff in the district are in the process of identifying employees who represent the diverse faces of our students, and who are currently serving students in a different capacity in the district. The district is also actively seeking potential employees who come from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds and communities who are interested in becoming teachers. 


Pathway II begins even earlier - in the formative middle school years when students are just beginning to dream about their possibilities as adults.  This funding will help students better understand the possibilities that a career in education can provide, and will help to fund after-school programming at the high school level for those students who are interested in learning more about the field of education and who may need encouragement in believing that they could be teachers. 


Staff are excited to get started.  Dr. Kathryn Wegner, social studies teacher at Richfield High School, came to the district from higher education just this year and currently teaches Advanced Placement Human Geography to freshmen. As a former high school teacher in Chicago Public Schools, and a former student teacher supervisor, Dr. Wegner knows all too well the short supply of teachers of color in education, and is excited to work with this grant.


“All students benefit from a diverse teaching staff who bring multiple perspectives to their curriculum and the classroom. For students of color, having teachers who can relate to their experiences in the world can motivate students and strengthen their connection to school, and ultimately improve student achievement,” said Wegner.

Tia Clasen, Director of Literacy