maroon wave
$2.5 Million Grant Allows SU to Help Instructional Assistants Further Their Education

$2.5 Million Grant Allows SU to Help Instructional Assistants Further Their Education

SALISBURY, MD---Salisbury University’s Samuel W. and Marilyn C. Seidel School of Education has been a leader in preparing future educators.

Now, with the help of a nearly $2.5 million Maryland Rebuilds: Growing a Highly Effective Childcare Workforce grant from the Maryland State Department of Education, SU is helping advance the education of those already in the field.

Drs. Shanetia Clark and Althea Pennerman, associate professors of early and elementary education, are the principal investigators for SU’s Cradling the Early Years Apprenticeship Program, joined on the implementation team by Drs. Vincent Genareo and Chin-Hsiu Chen, also associate professors of early and elementary education. The initiative is expected to help current child care workers and paraprofessionals – also known as instructional assistants – earn their bachelor degrees and teaching certifications.

“The charge of the Maryland Rebuilds grant is for a ‘seismic and systemic change’ in the teaching workforce,” said Clark. 

“This mantra serves as the guiding philosophy of this grant program. The salary of a classroom teacher in Maryland is more than double the earnings of childcare providers and paraprofessionals. Also, the new status elevates them on the career ladder and opens even more doors to upward mobility professionally,” added Pennerman.

With the timing of the funding from the grant, SU will first focus on those in Wicomico County who hold associate’s degrees, helping them complete coursework for bachelor’s degrees and their Maryland teaching certification requirements. 

The first 20-person cohort has begun taking courses, with the next cohort of up to 25 individuals set to begin coursework this summer.

The program covers all tuition and fees for participants and will lean heavily on virtual and hybrid learning to work around the full-time employment schedules for many of the participants. These two things clear up the two biggest obstacles for those hoping to advance their teaching careers – time and money.

“The Seidel School strives to create the best learning environment for every classroom into which our alumni step,” said Dr. Laurie Henry, dean of the Seidel School. “The dedication of those who will benefit from this grant has already been shown in their time with young people in the classroom and early learning centers. We hope to nourish that passion and increase their knowledge in the field to make them better educators and benefit their future students.”

Learn more about SU and opportunities to Make Tomorrow Yours at