Parapro-to-Teacher Pilot

In order to combat school staffing shortages, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) has encouraged communities to look for innovative ways to “grow their own” educators. Washtenaw ISD is leveraging its strong community relationships to offer multiple opportunities of support to existing public school employees.

The Paraprofessional-to-Teacher Certification Pilot Program is led by WISD in partnership with local school districts and Eastern Michigan University. Paraprofessionals, also known as Paraeducators, Teaching Assistants, Classroom Aides, or “Parapros” for short, work directly in classrooms under a classroom teacher to support small groups or 1-on-1 students. The pilot program, made possible by a special waiver granted by MDE, covers most of the costs of teacher preparation courses at Eastern Michigan University, including books and fees, for dedicated parapros already working in area schools. Upon completion of the program, parapros will be certified special education teachers specifically for students with emotional impairments or learning disabilities.

“Collectively, public schools are the second largest employer in our county and 10% of school staff are paraprofessionals already working in our classrooms,” noted WISD Superintendent Naomi Norman, citing regional employer data from both SPARK and MI School Data. “Our parapros are living and working in our communities. They are already invested in our students and in our schools, and we want to make sure there is a pathway for them to advance professionally.”

Paraprofessionals are often the heart of their classrooms, even though they are some of the lowest-paid school staff. Their backgrounds, experiences, and identities are also more reflective of the diverse student populations in classrooms today. Many have dreams of leading their own classrooms as certified teachers, but the financial burdens of newly starting or returning to college can be prohibitive.

The Paraprofessional-to-Teacher Certification Pilot Program aims to minimize the barriers and increase success by providing evening classes centrally located in the county and a dedicated program mentor. It will take each parapro three to three and a half years to complete the program. 

ADA & Accessibility

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Washtenaw ISD is committed to providing a website that is fully accessible and we are currently in the process of developing a new website to better meet the needs of our customers. Our new website will include improvements to ADA compliance and accessibility, and during this transition, we remain committed to maintaining our existing website's accessibility and usability. 

ADA Compliance

Non Discrimination

It is the policy and commitment of the Washtenaw Intermediate School District not to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, age, height, weight, familial status, marital status, genetic information, sexual orientation or any legally protected characteristic, in its educational programs, activities, admissions, or employment policies in accordance with Title IX of the 1972 Educational Amendments, executive order 11246 as amended, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and all other pertinent state and Federal regulations.

Non Discrimination Information

ADA and Title IX Coordinator ADA and Title IX Coordinator
Brian Marcel
Associate Superintendent
1819 S. Wagner Road 
Ann Arbor, MI  48103
(734) 994-8100 ext. 1402
Cassandra Harmon-Higgins
Executive Director, HR & Legal Services
1819 S. Wagner Road 
Ann Arbor, MI  48103
(734) 994-8100 ext. 1311