By Kelly Ryan

ELK GROVE (CBS13) — As a new school year begins for many area students, school districts are dealing with an old problem—not enough teachers.

A statewide program is helping more people get into the classroom. It will pay your way to a teaching credential, but to qualify, you have to earn it.

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It’s opening a new door for Justin Holloway. The Sacramento State graduate was at a crossroads and didn’t see a teaching credential as financially possible.

“I have to work, but also pay for my own college going forward,” he said. “How am I going to do that?”

But as a classified employee—which includes teaching assistants, bus drivers and yard supervisors—he learned he was eligible for a program that is now changing the future of 20 candidates.

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“We have people we know who are already vested in our community. They are enjoying working in public schools,” said Shelley Clark with the Elk Grove Unified School District’s human resources department.

The $20 million grant program was approved by the legislature to help with the teacher shortage.

“We cover all of the books, tuition, related fees so that they just have to do the work,” Clark said.

That’s $4,000 a year, plus other costs that add another $6,000.

But are financial incentives the way to get top teacher talent that’ll be invested in students? The district says it has scrutinized candidates in a rigorous recruiting program.

“It’s an awful lot to put yourself through if you’re not passionate about it,” Clark said.

It’s a lot of work, but it’s a reward that Michelle Anderson says is a dream come true for her and the other soon-to-be-teachers, who will shortly see themselves at the head of the class.

Teachers who are a part of the program are required to teach in the district for a minimum of three years.

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