skip to main content


Para to Teacher Pathway Program Opens Equitable Career Path for HCPSS Paraeducators

February 18th, 2020

Howard County Public School System, in partnership with Bowie State University and the Howard County Education Association (HCEA), announces a groundbreaking opportunity for current paraeducators to earn teacher certification in secondary mathematics or elementary education. Supported by a $750,000 grant from the Maryland State Department of Education, under the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, the Para to Teacher Pathway program is designed to address the growing shortage of qualified teacher candidates while supporting HCPSS goals for diversifying its workforce. The grant will support up to 32 paraeducators over the next three years in obtaining teaching credentials.

“Diversifying the workforce and promoting from within, are two main objectives aligned with our school system’s Strategic Call to Action. This program supports both of those initiatives,” said Dr. Michael J. Martirano, HCPSS superintendent. “We’re very excited that this partnership gives us the opportunity to identify paraeducators who want to be teachers and to support them in that journey.”

“As a proud Bowie State University graduate, I am pleased that we are partnering with this excellent institution, and deeply appreciate the partnership of HCEA in connecting our paraeducators to this valuable opportunity,” said Mavis Ellis, Howard County Board of Education chair.

The pathway program eliminates several traditional barriers for paraeducators wishing to pursue teacher certification. Participants may complete the program at little or no cost, as the majority of costs are covered by the grant. They will continue to hold their current paraeducator position and complete many degree requirements, including a teaching internship, while on the job.

Participants will complete the program as a cohort, attending Bowie State University courses offered at HCPSS, online or as a hybrid of both formats. Each cohort member will be provided a computer, will be fully supported with professional learning and mentoring, with an emphasis on culturally responsive teaching practices, and will be part of an online community.

“We are committed to preparing high quality teachers steeped in culturally relevant pedagogy that address the unique needs of K-12 students from diverse backgrounds,” said Dr. Lynne Long, chair of the Department of Teaching, Learning and Professional Development in the College of Education at Bowie State University.

“This grant will empower our paraeducators to pursue certification while still working with their students and pursuing their dreams,” said Colleen Morris, president, Howard County Education Association. “By supporting professional growth, it will serve to close an opportunity gap that exists for many of our members.”

To qualify for the program, participants must already hold an Associate of Arts or Associate of Arts and Teaching degree, be a current HCPSS paraeducator with demonstrated success, and be committed to teaching at HCPSS after earning their teacher certification.

Candidates must submit all application materials by February 28. The application includes transcripts, an essay and recommendations from the current principal and a colleague.

More information is available by emailing