Return to Headlines

Pennsbury Launches Grow Our Own Teachers Program

Group of three men and seven women standing in front of a Pennsbury School District Backdrop

Front row (left-right) - Dr. Theresa Ricci, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction, Katie Long, Vanessa Stack, Kimberly Caruso, Amber McCool, Dr. Cherrissa Gibson, Human Resources Director.

Back row (left-right) - Dr. Tom Smith, Superintendent; Dr. Kristopher Brown, Assistant Superintendent of Administration; Dr. Joanna Steere, President of the Pennsbury School Board of Directors; Dr. Travis Bloom, Principal of Charles Boehm Middle School

The Pennsbury School District is proud to announce the launch of its "Grow Our Own" Teacher Program, an innovative initiative designed to combat the nationwide teacher shortage by investing in and nurturing the talented and dedicated support staff already working within the district.  This program will enrich Pennsbury students' educational experience and assist the District in recruiting, developing, and retaining highly qualified teaching staff.  

After obtaining approval from the Pennsbury School District Board of Directors at its April 18 School Board Action Meeting, the district partnered with BloomBoard to launch the program. A "signing day" was held on Monday, June 10,  at the Pennsbury Administration Building in Fallsington to celebrate the selected participants and mark the beginning of this transformative initiative.

Our inaugural "class"—Kimberly Caruso, Katie Long, Amber McCool, and Vanessa Stack—has collectively spent the last 15 years working as paraprofessionals in Pennsbury. During the program, the four women will work at Edgewood Elementary School and Charles Boehm Middle School under the guidance of principals Stephanie Hultquist and Dr. Travis Bloom. 

Dr. Cherrisa Gibson, Director of Human Resources at Pennsbury, introduced Caruso, Long, McCool, and Stack, highlighting their strengths, which make them ideal candidates for the new program.

Kimberly Caruso prioritizes fostering academic success, inclusivity, and diversity. She advocates for equity and accessibility, drawing from her lifelong passion for guiding others, especially nurtured during her experiences in early childhood education and daycare. Katie Long has a genuine passion to see her students succeed. She exhibits remarkable dedication to her students and the programs she supports. Katie's student-centered approach ensures that all students receive the attention and support they need to thrive. Amber McCool discovered her passion for teaching in high school. She has worked with both middle and elementary students, finding fulfillment in witnessing their growth and learning. Inspired by the teachers at Pennsbury, Amber aims to help students excel academically and build their self-worth, preparing them for future success. Vanessa Stack is dedicated to helping children learn and inspiring them to embrace a love for learning. She provides flexible support to highly specialized learners and is known for her advocacy for the neediest students. Vanessa demonstrates remarkable patience and commitment in her role, readily assisting both students and staff as needed.”

Pennsbury’s “Grow Our Own” teacher program offers two distinct pathways. This selective program aims to provide robust support to those chosen, ensuring their success and readiness to enter the classroom as qualified teachers.

Pathway 1: Teacher Apprenticeship Program

The Pennsbury School District Teacher Apprenticeship Program offers eligible district support staff who hold an associate's degree the opportunity to obtain a bachelor's degree in education through a tuition subsidy provided by the district. The Teacher Apprenticeship Program provides job-embedded coursework, coaching, and classroom experience to enable aspiring educators to complete the credit hours necessary to earn a fully accredited Bachelor’s Degree and Pennsylvania Teacher Certification in Special Education. This pathway ensures that eligible employees can further their education and step into teaching roles without the financial burden often accompanying degree completion. 

Pathway 2: Teacher Preparation Tuition Reimbursement Incentive 

The Teacher Preparation Tuition Reimbursement Incentive allows support staff professionals with bachelor's degrees to pursue a Pennsylvania teacher certification. This pathway includes tuition reimbursement incentives for current Pennsbury employees, making it financially feasible for staff to achieve certification.

"Investing in the local talent already within Pennsbury is crucial in addressing the teacher shortage. Our support staff professionals are dedicated and passionate about education and the students of Pennsbury, and this program provides them with the opportunity to grow within our district while also serving our students,” said Dr. Gibson.

The first of its kind in Bucks County, Pennsbury’s "Grow Our Own" Teacher Program provides job-embedded coursework, coaching, and classroom experience to enable aspiring educators to complete the credit hours necessary to earn a fully accredited Bachelor’s Degree and Pennsylvania Teacher Certification in Special Education.

About Pennsbury School District

Pennsbury School District is comprised of four municipalities located in the southeastern corner of Bucks County, Pennsylvania: Yardley Borough, Lower Makefield Township, Falls Township, and Tullytown Borough. The economically-diverse community residents range from industrial workers to professionals who commute daily to New York City and Philadelphia. With an enrollment of approximately 9,686, Pennsbury School District currently has ten elementary schools (K-5), three middle schools (6-8), and one high school with two campus buildings. Our ethnic composition of enrollment is as follows: American Indian: 0.74%; Asian: 7.76%; Black or African American: 7.60%; Hispanic or Latino: 3.86%; Multi-Racial: 4.35%; Pacific Islander: .14%, and White 75.55%.

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 turn-key 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 to learn more.