GCCC, schools sign pathway agreement with WSU

Garden City Community College President Ryan Ruda and Shirley Lefever, Dean of the College of Applied Studies at Wichita State University, shake hands Wednesday during a ceremony marking an agreement between WSU, GCCC and local schools to create an educational pathway for para-educators to become certified teachers while continuing employment. Photo courtesy GCCC

GARDEN CITY — Garden City Community College, local schools and Wichita State University launched an innovative new partnership Wednesday that provides an educational pathway for para-educators to become certified teachers while continuing their employment.

Wednesday’s signing ceremony at GCCC also included USD 457-Garden City and UD 363-Holcomb.

The WSU Teacher Apprentice Program (TAP) project will begin this summer, providing an educational pathway for current para-educators in both Garden City and Holcomb school districts to continue full-time employment while concurrently taking evening and online classes with GCCC and WSU towards a bachelor’s degree in education. 

This pathway to the WSU Teacher Apprentice Program, developed specifically for the partnership, allows paraprofessionals to complete their Online Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education/Elementary Education and become certified teachers within three-and-a-half years.  

Each of the students who take advantage of the opportunity will also receive an increase in pay each year while completing degree requirements. 

Kansas Department of Commerce funding has been approved for para-educators at USD 457 who participate in the WSU TAP Pathway partnership with GCCC, and that funding is currently being sought for USD 363 para-educators as well.   

The approved funding for USD 457 participants is a $3,000 per year to be used towards tuition costs. 

This is the first of its kind partnership involving public and state entities in efforts to address the teacher shortage and crisis.   

Representatives of Wichita State University, Garden City Community College, USD 457 and USD 363 pose for a photo during Wednesday’s ceremony.