How the BridgeUP program is bringing new teachers to Pittsburgh-area schools

Photo by LexScope on Unsplash.

A new program called BridgeUP is working to address the major teacher shortage in Western Pennsylvania by helping people already working in support roles in schools to get a teaching degree and certificate.

Almost 8% of teachers left the profession during the pandemic. And the number of new teachers being certified is less than a third of what it was a decade ago.

Now, the Allegheny Intermediate Unit (AIU) is enrolling paraprofessionals who already have at least an associate’s degree and are currently working in schools, so that they can get a bachelor’s degree and teaching certificate in special education.

The program is free for the teacher-in-training, and they can work while they’re doing it.

“That’s the other barrier it eliminates. For some folks, if they want to go back to get their teaching certificate, they might have to take time off from work, do a traditional student teaching experience,” says Robert Scherrer, executive director of the AIU. “For a lot of folks, that just isn’t possible.”

The BridgeUP program allows these people to meet the requirements to become certified teachers while continuing to work in the jobs they currently have at schools in our region.

The program costs schools $16,500 per person, which is significantly less than the cost of a bachelors and teaching certificate. The program is in partnership with Bloom Board and Point Park University, and is serving as a recruitment tool for some schools to train new teachers.

For more information, visit the AIU website.