First In The State - HCSD's innovative new recruitment program is off to a strong start!

First In The State - HCSD's innovative new recruitment program is off to a strong start!

In just a few weeks, the Hernando School District (HCSD) has received more than 65 applicants following the launch of its Associate Teacher Program. The program is part of the school district's Learn It U, an innovative program designed to remove barriers preventing talented and dedicated individuals from becoming certified educators. The district has partnered with BloomBoard to become the first Florida county to add a pathway allowing aspiring teachers to receive on-the-job training while earning their bachelor's degree in elementary education at no cost to the teacher. The Associate Teacher Program is the district's newest effort to recruit and retain qualified educators - and it's off to a great start!


On July 20th, Sofia Villanueva became HCSD's first Associate Teacher to join the program. Villanueva, a paraprofessional at Pine Grove Elementary School, is a Weeki Wachee High graduate, and holds an associate's degree from Pasco-Hernando State College. As part of HCSD's Associate Teacher program, Villanueva will be able to apply real-world teaching experience from her classroom as part of the instruction toward earning her bachelor’s degree in elementary education. Associate Teachers like Villanueva will receive an hourly pay rate of $20 and have no out-of-pocket cost toward receiving a bachelor's degree. Because they are district employees, participants are also eligible to receive insurance benefits and become vested into the Florida Retirement System.


The District will fund the program using dollars earmarked for teacher salaries but are available due to existing instructional vacancies and each applicant will commit to teaching with HCSD for 4 years. "This program allows us to remove some real-world barriers that prevent individuals from becoming certified teachers," said Ray Pinder, Assistant Superintendent of Business & Support Services. "Being in this program eases the burden of limited time, money and training that often deters talented and motivated individuals from becoming educators. Our Associate Teacher program is a solution that can truly make a difference."


"This program will open doors for those who want to live, work and teach in Hernando County. We are certainly encouraged by the early interest in becoming Associate Teachers with us and we look forward to being part of their journey!" said John Stratton, Superintendent.


Photo - from left - Ray Pinder, Sofia Villanueva and John Stratton.

To learn more about the program, click here.