The Michigan Department of Education and Clare-Gladwin Regional Education Service District are encouraging formerly certified educators to seek full-time employment by partnering with a local school district. The Welcome Back Proud Michigan Educators campaign is working to reduce or eliminate barriers to teacher recertification and to facilitate re-entry into the profession.

MDE has been in communication with approximately 36,500 formerly certified educators and is working with local school districts and education labor organizations to welcome back former teachers ready to rekindle their passion to educate children. CGRESD Superintendent Sheryl Presler hopes the campaign can help local districts fill their needs.

“Anything we can do to put quality certified professionals in classrooms, we’ll explore it,” Presler said. “The shortage affects schools everywhere. We’re currently trying to fill positions at the Clare-Gladwin Area School, we’re looking for a teacher, a school psychologist and sign language interpreters. We’re hoping this program helps remove some of the barriers to getting these qualified folks back into the classroom, and we encourage our local districts to take advantage of this opportunity.”

“We want to encourage educators to return to Michigan schools to support our children,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice. “To paraphrase an old Motown song: We want you back. We welcome you back.”

For educators to re-certify their teaching license, 150 hours of additional professional development are typically required. By allowing districts to waive all or some of these hours for educators whose certificates expired in 2020 or before, the Welcome Back PME campaign reduces or eliminates the barrier posed by the required professional learning hours to re-certify educators who have not had the opportunity to receive district-provided professional development.

Participating local education agencies, both traditional public school districts and public school academies, must request a waiver on behalf of each eligible educator for participation. A teacher’s years of experience and the number of years since her/his certification expired will determine the level of flexibility and support required for the teacher.

“From classroom teachers to building administrators to district leaders, we are facing an unprecedented and very concerning shortage of educators across the state,” said Dr. Tina Kerr, executive director of the Michigan Association of Superintendents and Administrators (MASA). “We are glad to see MDE taking these steps to re-engage former educators and help us welcome them back to our school districts. We need to continue thinking creatively and working collaboratively to ensure that Michigan’s 1.5 million students have access to the teachers, leaders and staff necessary to get the high-quality public education they deserve.”

Educators without a district sponsor may also participate in the campaign by accessing member benefits offered through the Michigan Education Association Teacher Re-Entry Program, including quality professional learning opportunities designed for teachers wishing to transition back into the workforce.

An educator enrolling in the program can receive up to the full 150 hours required for recertification for a low cost of $100 a year until an individual has been hired into full-time employment and is eligible for a full regular union membership. 

All educators will be required to fulfill the legal professional practices requirements, including fingerprinting and background checks, as a precursor to recertification and employment. For more information, visit the Welcome Back Proud Michigan Educators campaign website at bit.ly/3x6ScRm.

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