District among seven in the state to tap into Teacher Vacancy Grant Program this fall to fund on-the-job educator pathways

ROMEOVILLE, Ill. [November 13, 2023] – This fall, 12 educators from the Valley View School District 365U (VVSD) will pursue master’s degree and special skill certification programs that will prepare them to fill teacher vacancies, thanks to financial support from the state’s Teacher Vacancy Grant Pilot program. 

In partnership with BloomBoard, a talent development provider helping school districts with educator advancement solutions, a portion of the district’s annual grant will underwrite on-the-job degree and certification programs for educators currently working full-time in VVSD who will commit to an additional three years of service to the district. Under the BloomBoard model, educators participate in a unique apprenticeship-based program where they remain in the classroom, avoiding such potential barriers to traditional advancement programs as evening and weekend classes. Through online and job-embedded learning, coupled with faculty support, educators build skills and assume gradual responsibility as they transition into their new roles.

In this cohort, ten VVSD paraprofessionals will work toward master’s degrees in teaching. At the same time, two existing teachers will earn certification in special education instruction (Illinois’ LBS1 certification).

“We’re excited to be able to grow and advance our current staff while they continue to support our learners and school community,” said Rachel Kinder, Ed.S, superintendent of Valley View School District. “Thanks to the Teacher Vacancy Grant and BloomBoard’s apprenticeship model, we can make career advancement attainable and a benefit of employment in Valley View– while we also build our talent pipeline and work to fill critical teacher vacancies.”

Introduced by Governor JB Pritzker in 2023, the Teacher Vacancy Grant Pilot Program aims to address chronic teacher shortages in the state’s most understaffed districts. Currently, 80% of the state’s 3,500 vacancies are concentrated in 20% of its districts. This targeted program directs $45 million per year over the next three years to the 170 school districts with the largest number of unfilled teaching positions. Districts applying for grants can reduce unfilled teaching positions through financial incentives, programming to strengthen talent pipelines and investments to sustain teachers and minimize attrition. 

“BloomBoard is thrilled to collaborate with the Valley View School District and Superintendent Kinder, who is helping educators overcome a tremendous hurdle by making career advancement attainable from within their classrooms,” said Sanford Kenyon, CEO of BloomBoard. “We celebrate our partnership, which represents a huge step forward in transforming the teacher advancement model and improving student outcomes.”

Other districts have already seen the impact BloomBoard’s on-the-job model has had on educator morale and retention. Hinkley-Big Rock CUSD 429 has supported six teachers in working towards their master’s degrees in curriculum and instruction; two will be among the first graduates of the program this month.

Along with VVSD, six other Illinois Teacher Vacancy Grant recipient districts have partnered with BloomBoard to support cohorts of up to 25 educators per district in advancement programs for paraprofessionals and teachers in their classrooms, including:

  • Bellwood School District 88 
  • Depue School District 103
  • Fremont School District 79
  • Hoover-Schrum School District 157
  • Sparta School District 140
  • Waukegan CUSD 60

Leaders from the VVSD will recognize participating educators at a signing ceremony at the Administration Center, 801 Normantown Road, Romeoville, Illinois at 4:30 pm C.T. on November 13.

Illinois districts can connect with BloomBoard to learn more about apprenticeship-based advancement pathways and how to partner by visiting https://bloomboard.com/program/teacher-vacancy-grant/.


About Valley View School District 365U

Valley View School District 365U is in Will County and includes the communities of Bolingbrook and Romeoville, along with portions of Plainfield, Lockport and Downers Grove. The district serves approximately 16,000 students in grades PK-12 in 21 educational facilities. VVSD is one of Will County’s largest employers, with over 2,500 full-time employees. To learn more, visit https://www.vvsd.org.

About BloomBoard

BloomBoard is a talent development provider that enables K–12 school districts to grow, advance and retain educators by making professional education a benefit of employment. We offer turnkey programs for school districts to move educators forward at all points of their professional journey. Our platform connects districts to higher education institutions that offer certification and degree programs using a unique, on-the-job instructional model. We help to assess needs, build and implement plans, and celebrate educator success. Visit https://www.bloomboard.com to learn more.