USG to subsidize new degree program led by Towson for paraeducators working in Montgomery County Public Schools

(Rockville, MD) — The Universities at Shady Grove (USG) and Towson University (TU) have launched a groundbreaking partnership aimed at building the next generation of educators while simultaneously addressing ongoing teacher shortages in Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). TU — one of nine University System of Maryland partners with programs on USG’s campus — will establish a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and Special Education, Dual Certification Program, for eligible paraprofessionals currently employed by MCPS. USG, for its part, will pay the remaining tuition cost of the program for all participants not covered by the MCPS tuition contribution.

Under the new initiative, which will run through FY2028, USG will fund two cohorts of up to 20 students each, with the degree program designed to equip paraprofessionals with the necessary skills and credentials to transition into certified teachers. Participants will all be current employees of MCPS, each of whom will continue in their current paid MCPS positions while enrolled. A mix of in-person and remote learning instruction will be provided, with all in-person instruction taking place on the USG campus in Rockville. 

“USG believes strongly in a model of higher education that helps students balance their academic needs with professional responsibilities. This program exemplifies that principle," said Dr. Anne Khademian, executive director of the Universities at Shady Grove and associate vice chancellor of academic affairs for the University System of Maryland. "We are thrilled to partner with Towson University, which shares our commitment to providing accessible pathways for paraprofessionals to advance their careers and fill essential teaching positions within MCPS." 

More than 1,200 teachers resigned from MCPS during the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 school years, exacerbating an existing teacher shortage that is being experienced locally, throughout Maryland and across the country. According to the U.S. Department of Education, Maryland experienced teacher shortages across 28 areas of certification during the 2023-24 school year. Some subject areas — including special education, English as a Second Language, art and music, and health and physical fitness — all experienced shortages from pre-k to grade 12. 

"This collaboration is a shining example of Towson’s dedication to educational excellence and workforce development," said Dr. Laurie Mullen, Dean of the College of Education at Towson University. "By offering a comprehensive curriculum and flexible instructional modes, we are empowering aspiring educators to make a meaningful impact in our local schools right now and well into the future."

Better pay, enhanced training and stronger recruitment efforts for teachers are among the principles included in the Blueprint for Maryland's Future that aims to fundamentally reform public education in Maryland. But amid school district budget cuts locally and an ongoing teacher pipeline shortage statewide, innovative efforts are necessary to ensure that educators in Maryland have the skills and tools they need to thrive. 

“Every day, teachers make a meaningful difference in the lives of their students. We are pleased and excited to help initiate a program that offers so much potential for public education in our state,” said Dr. Khademian. “By bringing programs like these to scale, we can make a difference across all levels of education for teachers and students alike.” 


About the Universites at Shady Grove

Established in 2000, The Universities at Shady Grove (USG) offers select degree programs from nine public Maryland universities on one convenient campus in Montgomery County. Students apply directly to the university offering their chosen major, and on the application, they simply select USG as their preferred campus location. The professors, curriculum, and degree are provided by the home university (it does not say USG on your diploma!), but students at the USG campus benefit from small class sizes, increased scholarship opportunities, and an array of customized on-site services and student life - leading to a more personalized, cost-effective, and time-saving path to degree completion. USG's innovative and pioneering partnership approach to higher education is designed to connect local college students to outstanding career opportunities, while providing regional employers with a highly educated, skilled workforce. Only the upper-level undergraduate and graduate courses are offered on the USG campus, fostering a supportive environment of students focused on completing their degrees and advancing their careers.
 

ABOUT TOWSON UNIVERSITY

Towson University is Maryland’s university of opportunities. With more than 150 years of experience pushing possibilities, TU is a nationally recognized leader in inclusive excellence, social mobility, research and discovery. As the largest university in greater Baltimore, TU’s momentum is always accelerating, with nearly 20,000 students and 200 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs in the liberal arts and sciences and applied professional fields. Located amid one of the East Coast’s cultural and economic epicenters, TU is a beacon and powerful catalyst in the Mid-Atlantic, partnering with hundreds of businesses and organizations, impacting communities and fueling change. TU meets the holistic needs of each student to achieve success, a result of a deeply inclusive culture with a focus on equity among all students, faculty and staff.