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Guest Research Roundup:
Amaya Garcia

In this feature, we ask experts in the field to recommend resources related to programmatic work we are exploring with our partners. The goal is to provide helpful additional background and associated research for those interested in learning more.

This month’s program spotlight highlights our work to design customized pre-service and mentor support for Grow Your Own educator initiatives in Miami-Dade County Public Schools, so we reached out to Amaya Garcia, deputy director of the PreK-12 team in the Education Policy Program at New America. Amaya researches Grow Your Own teacher preparation programs and related policy and also leads and supports New America’s Grow Your Own Educators National Network. We are grateful to Amaya for her insights.

Grow Your Own (GYO) is an increasingly popular approach for addressing teacher shortages and increasing the racial and linguistic diversity of the teacher workforce. GYO educator programs recruit community members, such as high school students, paraeducators, and even parents, and prepare them to become teachers in their local schools. GYO programs often offer financial assistance, paid job-embedded learning, academic advising, flexible scheduling for courses, mentorship, tutoring, test preparation, and a cohort model. In addition, many programs attempt to attend to the unique needs or circumstances of each teacher candidate. By focusing on who is recruited into teaching and how programs can remove barriers for individuals who often lack access and support to persist in higher education, GYO offers an approach to teacher preparation that is grounded in the needs of candidates and local communities. In addition, many programs are co-created by school districts and educator preparation programs, which creates stronger alignment between the content, coursework, and clinical training candidates receive. By recruiting teachers from the community and aligning their preparation with the needs of local schools and communities, GYO programs offer a way to ensure that today’s aspiring teachers are well prepared and primed to stay in the profession for the long term.

Recommended resources:
  • New America, Grow Your Own Educators: A Toolkit for Program Design and Development
    “Our GYO Educator Toolkit is an evolving collection of research, policy, and practice resources to promote the creation and implementation of high-impact GYO programs in communities across the nation. These practice-oriented resources offer guidance on key aspects of program development and implementation, including partnerships, candidate recruitment and retention, mentoring, funding, and advocacy.”
  • New America, 50-State Scan of Grow Your Own Teacher Policies and Programs
    “This report provides a comprehensive review of the programs and policies that support GYO programs across the 50 states and DC. The data include information on current policies, funding streams, populations being served, and key takeaways across the national landscape of GYO.”
  • Beatriz Chu Clewell and Ana Maria Villegas, Ahead of the Class: A Handbook for Preparing New Teachers from New Sources
    “This article provides an overview, lessons, and initial outcomes of the DeWitt Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund’s Pathways to Teaching Careers Initiative that operated from 1989 through the early 2000s and aimed to prepare paraeducators, uncertified teachers, and others to earn teacher certification as a strategy for addressing local teacher shortages. It is a foundational article for understanding the design features of GYO, data on the retention of teachers prepared through this approach, and the cost of these types of models.”
About Amaya Garcia

Amaya Garcia is deputy director of PreK–12 education with the Education Policy program at New America. She provides research and analysis on policies and programs related to English learners, including dual language education, bilingual teacher preparation and career pathways, bilingual education, English language proficiency, and early education. Her work includes research on Grow Your Own teacher preparation programs and related policies. She leads and supports New America’s Grow Your Own Educators National Network. Prior to joining New America, Amaya was a policy analyst at the DC State Board of Education and a research associate at the American Institutes of Research. She has worked in a variety of research labs, conducting studies on school finance, reading comprehension, infant learning and memory, and early language development, among other topics. She holds a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Maryland–College Park, a master’s degree in cognitive studies in education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a bachelor’s degree in English and psychology from the University of Iowa.