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'Talent Together' Program Seeks More Funds as Teacher Applications Rise

Talent Together saw thousands of applications

By Courtney Bennett

FLINT, Mich. – A program that was started to address the teacher shortage in Michigan has grown and saw thousands apply in the latest round of applications.

It’s called Talent Together Grow Your Own Program and millions of dollars have gone in to support this, but will this program continue?

“We are asking the legislature for additional funds so that we can accept more people because clearly, we have 2700 people who are banging down the door to say we want to become teachers. We’d like to accept as many of them as possible,” says Jack Elsey, he’s the founder of the Michigan Educator Workforce Initiative.

“What Talent Together does is allow folks to keep their job in a school and even get their bachelor’s degree in some cases, plus their certification, all for free,” says Elsey.

This was started to address Michigan’s teacher shortage.

Cohort one had 950 people who are becoming teachers.

Out of the 2500 that applied in cohort two they expect to accept 600.

“I think we would all agree that helping 1000s More Michiganders become teachers is is an important and critical solution to making sure that we don’t have a teacher shortage in the future,” says Elsey.

Elsey says they see how this program is already helping schools.

He says they will have 150 people who will graduate in the spring and start as classroom teachers in the fall.

Vanessa Scruggs is finishing her first year in the Talent Together Grow You Own.

Her children are in college right now and without this program she says it wouldn’t be possible for her to be a teacher.

“I kept putting it off, I kept putting it off. I kept putting it off and I’m thinking, Okay, I’m getting too old for this. I gotta do something,” says Scruggs.

Scruggs says she has a degree in criminal justice but fell in love with being in a school.

“I wanted to do more for our kids that don’t have that support. And this is the way for me to do that,” she says.

Scruggs is working at a school while taking classes at Northern Michigan.

Through Talent Together, it’s all virtual, you can live anywhere in the state and take these classes.

Scruggs says it works well but can also be a challenge.

“I’ve been out of college for 36 years. And this experience is totally new to me. I’m old school. I’m a grandmother, you know, and I’m used to the face-to-face and standing outside the professor’s door and saying, Hey, I don’t understand that I didn’t understand it. And you don’t have that when you’re virtual,” says Scruggs.

They are hopeful they can continue this program given the success but again they are asking for help to fund this through the state legislature budget.