Collage of pictures of growing our own students

The Growing Our Own Teachers program, an innovative initiative by Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS), is making waves in the education community. Designed to support and mentor high school students who aspire to become teachers, the program’s goal is to have them return to PWCS classrooms as educators and school leaders.

One shining example of the program’s success is Kayleigh D’Abadie, second grade teacher at Penn Elementary School. D’Abadie is a PWCS graduate who participated in the Growing Our Own Teachers program from 2013 to 2015 at Unity Reed High School. She was a recipient of the program’s scholarship and now pays it forward by mentoring students who are part of the program that helped shape her career.

D’Abadie, whose passion for teaching was fueled by the positive impact of her own teachers during her years in PWCS, emphasized the importance of the program. “It plays a crucial role in helping PWCS high school students explore their future and discover their purpose. By providing an inside look at the teaching profession before college, the program equips students with valuable experiences and clarity for their post-high school lives.”

Adeena Jilani, a senior at Charles J. Colgan High School, had the opportunity to have D’Abadie as a mentor during her Teachers for Tomorrow II class. Her experience echoes D’Abadie’s sentiments. “The time I got to spend in the classroom was so vital in determining my future in education,” shared Jilani. “It was nothing like I had imagined, and everything I had hoped for at the same time. There were roadblocks that I hadn't anticipated, moments of reflection throughout where I learned new skills, and hands-on experience that helped me make the decision of pursuing elementary school education.”

The Growing Our Own Teachers program identifies, recruits, and mentors students throughout their educational journey. Starting in junior year of high school, participants can earn up to six college credits. Enrolled students in postsecondary teaching programs receive PWCS internships and student teaching opportunities. For the 2023-24 school year, PWCS hired 10 alumni from the program, and they have already hired eight alumni for the 2024-25 school year. The program continues to grow and serves as a successful educational and recruitment initiative for PWCS

As PWCS continues to invest in its future educators, the Growing Our Own Teachers program remains a beacon of inspiration, shaping the next generation of dedicated teachers and leaders in the school division.