Aspiring educators with a bachelor's degree, but no teaching certification, will soon have a new inroad to the classroom in Georgetown ISD after trustees approved an amendment to the District of Innovation plan.

What you need to know

During an April 15 board meeting, GISD administrators approved three amendments to the district's DOI plan. As a DOI, GISD can be exempted from some state laws listed in the Texas Education Code, said Wes Vanicek, the district's chief strategist for assessment and feedback, during an April 2 board workshop. However, the district cannot be exempt from federal laws, he said.

Two of the proposed amendments remove exemptions from the DOI plan. These previous exemptions, regarding group health benefits for school employees and excused absences, would be removed due to changes in law, he said.

A third amendment to a previous exemption allows the district to hire candidates for a teaching position who hold a bachelor's degree, but no teaching certification.

The specifics

Through the adjustment to the DOI plan, GISD will create a new pathway for potential teachers with the intention of becoming certified while employed with the district. Vanicek said this would make hiring for certain positions more flexible, as potential hires would not need to have a degree or certification before being hired.

About the program

The Georgetown Recognizes & Elevates Aspiring Teachers program will be specifically offered to current full-time paraprofessionals within the district, said Amanda Johnson, GISD's executive director for human resources, during the April 15 board meeting. She said this will also act as an incentive to backfill paraprofessional positions as they complete the program and move into the classroom.

In partnership with Indiana Wesleyan University, GISD's Grow Your Own program will help staff obtain their bachelor's degrees, as well as their teaching certifications, while employed with the district, if they do not already have a degree.

The first cohort of paraprofessionals in the pipeline will have a minimum of 50 college credit hours, Johnson said, and will finish before the end of the 2025-26 school year.

The only cost to participants will be their exam and certification, Johnson said.

What else?

The exemption would not be allowed for prekindergarten, bilingual or special education positions, Vanicek said.

Participants will begin their pedagogy modules in May, with their placements to follow in June. Johnson said they will also work under a mentor teacher.