In June of 2023, Florida’s Hernando School District partnered with BloomBoard to address the nationwide teacher shortage by launching an on-the-job bachelor’s degree program to aspiring teachers through BloomBoard’s higher education partner network.


Removing Barriers to Teaching

Hernando’s Associate Teacher Program provides the opportunity for a select group of experienced paraprofessionals and other school community members to assume the role of Associate Teacher Substitute. Associate Teachers are paid to work full time in classrooms while earning their bachelor’s degree and certification through portfolio-based, on-the-job courses. The school district covers the cost of the degree in exchange for a commitment from the educator to remain teaching in the district for a number of years.​


High Demand for Community-Based Advancement

Hernando County filled their first cohort of Associate Teachers almost immediately, and they now have a waiting list of over 100 candidates hoping to join future cohorts. Their program is a model example of how innovative pathways to teaching can help districts fill their staffing needs and build a sustainable teacher pipeline.


On-the-Job Learning

Instead of separating the coursework from the student teaching internship, this program allows participants to earn their degree and certification by demonstrating skills through their daily work in schools. The program is portfolio-based, which means participants submit lessons, student work, videos of classroom practice, and more as evidence of their growth.


How Mentorship Supports Success for Associate Teachers

A key component of the program’s learning model is the support provided to on-the-job degree candidates by university faculty and a mentor in the school building. Associate Teachers say the support and coaching provided helps them reflect on their practice and build confidence in their new skills.


Eager to Teach in Hernando County Schools

Above all, Hernando School District’s Associate Teacher Program highlights the value of creating teaching pathways for individuals already within the community. Hernando’s Associate Teachers are motivated and inspired to give back to their community by becoming certified classroom educators.

To get more information about Hernando School District’s Associate Teacher Program, visit

And to learn more about how BloomBoard can help your district recruit, advance, and retain great teachers, contact us: