Nolan Kapkowski is a special education teacher at the high school branch that works at Ryan Elementary School in Bronson.
Teaching was not Kapkowski’s lifelong dream and was not even on the radar of his career until he worked as a parapro at the Waldron Center with Darcy Trumbauer. Her teaching methods pulled him on a new path.
Although he has always worked with young people, Kopkovki jumped after high school, attending classes in various disciplines at the college here and there.
A few years ago he arrived in Caldwater, a single dad who came to town because his father got a job in Branch County. Family support is important for single parents.
Working with Trumbower, Kopkovki realized this was something he really enjoyed, and began working on a teaching degree.
Ryan had a long-term replacement, for which he qualified and was hired. Kopkovka received a bachelor’s and master’s degree. It really helped that his college classes were online and he was always busy.
Darin Adeir, assistant head of special education, said that if a person has enough credit in college, BISD can get a full year of basic permission to study through the Michigan Department of Education.
Kapkowski is one example of what is called “Grow Yourself” and is mostly used in special education.
The program delivers two ticks – it helps those who are interested in teaching, get a diploma while working, and helps to respond to the shortage of teachers.
Heather Salines also got into special education through para-professional doors.
After serving 10 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, Sallins came out in 2016 to make her children a priority. She returned to the area to support the family.
Salines was accepted as a para-professional at BISD at Legg High School, Coldwater, in a program for the emotionally impaired, while working on a degree in social work.
“I fell in love with this program and these kids,” Salines said.
She soon realized that social work was not her hobby, but the prerequisites were very important for special education.
“I never thought I would be a teacher. I have never seen myself as a teacher, let alone an EI teacher, ”Salins said.
Currently, in her third year in the Legg class, Salines received her bachelor’s degree in May 2021 and is working on her master’s degree.
It was also crucial for her, a single parent, to have a paid job while earning a degree.
Madison Headstrom, a 2016 Coldwater graduate, went to college for her degree in a more traditional way.
Her general education students were taught at Ryan Elementary School in the traditional way – by paying for college while she taught.
Thanks to her degree, Hedstrom earned qualifications as a long-term subject in Ryan’s resource room. It has become a “residence”, which means that she was paid during the training of special education students under the guidance of a teacher, and now she is fully certified, teaching with Kapkowski.
“Thanks to my hands-on teaching experience, I feel like I got more out of it because I actually needed to do all the paperwork and learning under guidance, not watching,” Hedstrom said.
In high school, Hedstrom attended the Career Branch Center for Healthcare / Nursing.
“I decided to do a rotation at the Waldron Center and fell in love with it. I enjoyed working with students and helping them grow. It just attracted me, ”Headstrom said.
She was admitted to the Sagina Valley State University Nursing Program, but chose the path of special education.
“I wanted to help students who need me more,” Headstom said.
How it works:
Adair said the full year of basic study permits could be extended up to three times if the following conditions are met:
Update 1: Effective or highly effective ratings in the assigned field and enrollment in a state-approved teacher training program leading to certification.
Update 2-3: A minimum of six semesters of additional credit hours prior to program completion.
In the role of teacher, everyone is assigned a teacher. They are on a higher pay schedule, have 401,000 options, dental, vision and health insurance, Ader said. Not every university allows this, so applicants need to make sure this is an option.
However, “More and more universities are switching to this student-friendly option as the shortage of school staff continues to grow,” Ader said.