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Ball State University to Play Major Role in Apprenticeship Supporting Indiana Educator Pipeline

Ball State University will play a major role in a first-of-its-kind program in the nation centered on special education after the recent federal approval of a state registered apprenticeship supporting the educator pipeline. 

Students participating in the program—which is first launching at Noblesville High School and will be available to scale at other Indiana schools—will allow students to graduate a year early having earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in Special Education from the University.

“I am grateful our University will provide this unique opportunity for high school students in our state,” Ball State President Geoffrey S. Mearns said. “Educating the next generation of teachers is the foundation upon which Ball State University was built, and it is an ongoing priority for our University. This pathway extends our reach while preparing high school students with a tangible, high-quality experience.” 

This program, which uses the popular Grow Your Own model, received approval from the U.S. Department of Labor (U.S. DOL) earlier this month. To participate, students can enroll in the five-year apprenticeship program beginning their junior year of high school. Participating apprentices will receive instruction from Ball State during their time in high school through dual enrollment courses, which are easily transferable and align with the Next Level Programs of Study

Students participating in Indiana’s first registered apprenticeship program will also earn multiple education-related certifications, as well as work at local after-school programs such as the Boys & Girls Club, where they will earn tangible, hands-on experience. 

“This tremendous and first-ever education apprenticeship initiative for Indiana will develop an educator pipeline for today and tomorrow,” said Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Chris Lowery. “It’s a clear win for future educators to begin their apprenticeship in high school, gain hands-on experience in the classroom and earn a bachelor’s degree at the conclusion of the five-year apprenticeship.” 

Through this new educator-based registered apprenticeship program, Indiana’s high school students will have the opportunity to connect with industry partners and meet workforce demands while building a pipeline that will grow and sustain the state’s educator pipeline in today’s competitive labor market. 

“The apprenticeship program will include a strong mentoring component at Ball State and in the workplace, which will increase retention, on-time graduation rates, and longevity in the teaching field,” said Susan Tancock, associate dean at Teachers College and co-developer of the program. 

This new registered apprenticeship is powered through a partnership with Ball State University, Noblesville Community Schools, the Boys & Girls Club of Noblesville, the Pursuit Institute of Hamilton County (formerly known as the Hamilton County Center for Career Achievement), and the Region 5 Workforce Board.  

“This program is a true representation of innovation and collaboration across multiple partnerships,” said Carrie Lively, Executive Director of The Pursuit Institute. “The opportunities afforded to students and families through this registered apprenticeship program are unlike any other across the country. I am proud that The Pursuit Institute was the visionary leader in the development of this transformative program, and we anticipate enrollment in the apprenticeship program to scale rapidly.” 

Registered apprenticeship programs in Indiana are overseen by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD) through the Office of Work Based Learning and Apprenticeships (OWBLA), which has been a key partner in shaping Indiana’s, first registered apprenticeship supporting the educator pipeline.  

“Having an office like OWBLA working within the Department of Workforce Development that is dedicated to work-based learning and focused on improving the quality and quantity of education and training programs like this U.S. DOL Teacher Apprenticeship continues to benefit all Hoosier students, businesses and communities throughout Indiana,” said Josh Richardson, Interim Commissioner of DWD. 

Nationally, apprenticeships have grown by 64 percent since 2012, with two million more apprentices taking place over that same time.