By Colleen Boyle Sharp
Special to The CS&T

PHILADELPHIA – Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and the Philadelphia Workforce Investment Board announced July 1 a grant of $2.92 million of stimulus funding to support training programs for adults and recently laid off workers.

Holy Family University was one of a dozen recipients of a $240,000 grant that will be used to enroll up to 40 inspaniduals in the university’s Pathway to Teaching program. It will help eligible inspaniduals obtain a teacher intern certificate and enter the teaching profession. {{more}}

“Basically, this is a career changing grant that is helping students to get back into the workforce,” said Holy Family University’s program director Janice Wagman. She said that those accepted into the graduate program would need to pass a practice test in order to earn their certificate. With the certificate, students have the ability to teach while completing their coursework.

“The real advantage for the students who enroll in Pathways to Education,” Wagman said, “is that they would be able to work, earn a salary and have benefits all while pursuing their master’s in education.”

According to the university, required course work in the graduate program can be completed in two years, possibly less, depending on the different program requirements and if the students have had any previous credits in education.

The grant is part of the $6.7 million in federal funding that was awarded to Philadelphia through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The grant will provide start-up tuition support for those students accepted into the program, a welcome stimulus to a city that is presently dealing with an 8.2 percent unemployment rate.

Basic criteria for those wishing to enroll are: applicants must be residents of Philadelphia, have already earned a bachelor’s degree and be willing to work in the city. Once certified, Holy Family would help students with job placement among the city’s private, public, parochial and charter schools.

Holy Family, which among private universities is the largest provider of certified teachers to the School District of Philadelphia, was the only university to receive grant money for the education of teachers.

“The university is hoping to position these newly certified teachers in fields of education that have an immediate need,” Wagman said. “Special education, secondary education in the subjects of language and science are currently areas in necessity of certified educators.”

While Wagman agrees that an increase in undergraduate enrollment, which is just over 1,000 students, will be an enormous benefit to the university, she contends that there is a much bigger picture to be seen.

“Through this program we are looking to enrich people’s lives by getting them into a new profession. In these tough economic times teaching is a truly wonderful opportunity, and we are always in need of new teachers,” she said.

With the recruitment phase just beginning, the university has already received numerous inquiries about the program and is expecting more interest as the fall semester approaches. Those interested in learning more about the program can contact Wagman at

Colleen Boyle Sharp is a freelance writer and photographer, and a parishioner of St. Katherine of Siena in Philadelphia.