Teachers receive grants in SUHSD


Sofia Murillo

Biology and Biology Forensics teacher at Bonita Vista High (BVH) Joseph Szakovits holds up the grant he recieved for his Biology Forensics class.

Sara Salgado-Garcia, Staff Artist

At Bonita Vista High School (BVH) teachers are applying for grants that are available to all of the Sweetwater Union High School District (SUHSD). The district has recently given classified employees the opportunity to earn a grant that will help them finish their teaching credentials. The grant has been very successful in helping those achieve their goals of finishing their credentials to pursue jobs in the teaching field.

Employees at SUHSD are able to apply for a grant that will help them pay their schooling in order for them to finish their credentials while continuing to teach at the same time. This way SUHSD is able to hire more teachers and new teachers are able to have stable teaching positions.

“Those classified employees have to be able to qualify for the grant, so they have to have at least 60 college units towards getting their bachelor’s degree and/or teaching credential,” SUHSD Director of Human Resources Robert Hughes said.

At BVH, substitute teacher Lenette Robinson applied for the classified employee grant in order to help her pay tuition fees while she finishes her credentials. Robinson has her bachelor’s degree but continues to pursue education for her credentials to become a full time teacher.

“I currently attend a national university and it’s very expensive. This grant would absolutely help me pay primarily for tuition and it would be a big help since teaching is something I really want to do,” Robinson said.

Robinson has been working diligently to pursue a job as a teacher at BVH. While Robinson attends school, she takes care of her family, which adds on financial stress. She explains how with this grant, it would be a big help to support her and her family, but in order to continue receiving money for the grant, you have to follow certain guidelines. If she doesn’t keep up with her end of the bargain, she can essentially lose privilege to that grant.

“The grant covers $3,500 a year toward tuition. I think you have to maintain a certain gpa and you already have to be enrolled in your program, or at least registered to begin your program,”  Robinson said. 

This ensures that SUHSD applicants will use the grant for educational purposes and to complete their teaching credentials. In addition, this will have a positive impact on the community because if the district is able to help people pursuing a teaching career, then the capacity of staff will increase. 

It’s a great opportunity. We’ve already had a number of Sweetwater classified employees receive the first month of the grant and the second round of the grant just opened up, and that application process is now open.

— SUHSD Director of Human Resources Robert Hughes

“There is a lot of talk nationwide and in California specifically about teacher shortages in the future. There is also the idea and concept that we want to build the capacity of our current employees who are already working in the classrooms,” Hughes said. 

If that prediction is right, a teacher shortage will result in exceedingly big classrooms going beyond the capacity of both the schools’ and the teachers’ capabilities. To help alleviate some worries on this matter, this grant will help those future teachers to pursue what they want. The more SUHSD can encourage and help teachers, the more schools will be able to thrive with kind and intelligent teachers.

“County offices of education were able to get some federal money for this grant and these opportunities for classified employees so that they can have the ability to transition from instructional assistance or some other classification to certificated teachers,” Hughes said.

These grants will help transition those substitute teachers to become full time teachers. New classes are added every few years, so when the opportunity comes and teachers can be hired for that position, they will most likely take it. As new classes are coming, they will need funding to continue to have a well-established class.

“Every science teacher gets a certain amount of money to fund labs. I burned through that within a month and a half. I’ve also put some of my own money into this class. It’s kind of a labor of love,” Biology and Biology Forensics teacher Joseph Szakovits said.

For the 2022-23 school year, Szakovits recently implemented Biology Forensics as a brand-new class. This class requires a bunch of new equipment and tools to have labs for his students. For this reason, Szakovits applied for a grant with North Island Credit Union, in which he received the grant.

“I applied for the North Island Credit Union teachers grant and it was open to all teachers of all grade levels in San Diego and Riverside county,” Szakovits said. 

The grants teachers are able to apply for are great opportunities for them and their classrooms. Taking the risk of just applying and trying to get the grant can make a big difference in the future of the classroom.

“It’s a great opportunity. We’ve already had a number of Sweetwater classified employees receive the first month of the grant and the second round of the grant just opened up, and that application process is now open,” Hughes said.