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Grow Your Own program is helping employees on their path to become teachers 

  • Pathways & Partnerships
Grow Your Own program is helping employees on their path to become teachers 

With support from the Grow Your Own grant program, a dozen District 191 employees are currently working toward earning their teaching degrees.

Grow Your Own programs are partnerships between school districts, educator preparation programs, and community organizations that recruit and prepare high school students and non-certified school staff to enter the teaching profession and teach in their communities. District 191 partners with Metro State University, which has a Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board-approved (PESLB-approved) teacher preparation program. Through the Grow Your Own program, the state provides funds that go toward tuition scholarships or stipends for district employees who are people of color or American Indian.

Courtnee Jackson Floback serves as the district’s Grow Your Own grant navigator. She provides support for staff as they pursue their licensure. 

“People who work within our school district that are interested in becoming teachers, this is an opportunity for them to reduce some of that financial strain and time constraint that tend to be barriers to the education program,” Floback said. “Almost all of them have wanted to be educators from an early age. They’ve had some form of experience in their life where an educator touched their lives or education in general has been a big part of who they are.”

The current class of staff in the program includes people currently working in many different roles, including as educational assistants, cultural liaisons, administrative assistants, AVID tutors, and in community education.

Maria Gutierrez Beltran is an educational assistant at Rahn Elementary. She started as a bilingual educational assistant at Vista View Elementary 11 years ago. While at Vista View, her co-workers encouraged her to go back to school to get her degree. She will graduate from Augsburg College this spring. Thanks to the Grow Your Own grant, she has been able to save money and keep working at Rahn while attending school and completing her student teaching. 

“The Grow Your Own path came as a great blessing to me,” she said. “I didn’t expect this great help because I was stressing out, like how am I going to pay for my daily living expenses? It’s been a great support to me and my family.”

In March 2024, District 191 was awarded a second Grow Your Own Adult Pathway grant that will support a total of 20 staff members in earning their teaching degrees, and pay for their student teaching in the district.

Over the last two years, District 191 has also been approved for two five-year Grow Your Own grants that support high school students. The 2022 grant provides funds for students interested in the education field to go on field trips to colleges, management of the Education Pathway at Burnsville High School, Future Teachers of America club activities, and $6,000 to $20,000 scholarships for students entering teaching programs. 

The 2024 grant provides support for students who complete their Associate of Arts degree at BHS. If those students pursue education, the Grow Your Own grant program will pay for them to complete their degree. 

To learn more about the Grow Your Own grant program, contact Director of Strategic Partnerships and Pathways Kathy Funston at

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