A new pathway to teaching

Jackie Koch

Jayme Funchion is working on a master’s degree in education while working as a teacher apprentice at TMS.


A state program to address the teacher shortage is creating a path for residents to become teachers while earning a paycheck, and Jayme Funchion is on her way to doing just that. The former secretary at Tecumseh Middle School has been working in the classroom since last fall while taking graduate-level classes to obtain a master’s degree in education – and she doesn’t have to spend a dime to do it. 
The Michigan Talent Together program was launched in 2023 after the Legislature allocated $66.4 million to the initiative that involves 48 intermediate school districts across the state. The program removes financial barriers for participants so they can get into the classroom and start contributing to schools. Tecumseh Public Schools has six employees who have been accepted into the Talent Together program. 
Funchion is the first TPS employee to be given an apprenticeship in the program and is mentored by fifth grade teacher Carrie Barden. 
She heard about the program in late winter or early spring of last year. Because she already had an undergraduate degree in communications and English, she was able to make the step into the classroom sooner than those who need to complete undergraduate classes first. She receives 80% of a first-time, full-time teacher’s pay. “I’m able to work hands-on with a mentor for a whole year while I’m paid. The program guarantees that you wouldn’t take a pay cut during this apprenticeship,” she said. 
Her past experience includes nonprofit work and working to help communities, so teaching fit with her passion. “When this came out, I didn’t know how much school I would need or what kind of classes I would have, but I gave it a go and I applied for it,” said Funchion. She found out in July that she had been accepted. 
Along with jumping into a classroom, in September she began the first of nine graduate classes she will need to complete for her master’s degree. Teaching full-time and taking three classes at night plus an observation class each semester makes for a busy schedule, but Funchion is dedicated to reaching her goal. The classes, through Davenport University, are live online lectures. “It’s very intense. I am putting the work in,” she said. “I am fully committed, and I am fully thankful, but I’m very, very busy.”
She has already passed the certification course to become a teacher in Michigan so she could teach now, but since she’s committed to the apprenticeship program, she’ll finish out the classwork in the district. Talent Together will pay for her master’s degree program beyond her apprenticeship. 
She doesn’t know where she’ll end up teaching once she’s done with the apprenticeship, but she hopes there might be a place for her close to home. “The goal of the program is to keep you in the district that you currently work for,” Funchion said. “However, the school has to have a position available for you. They can’t create one. If Tecumseh doesn’t have one, Talent Together still has to work with other partnering districts to get me a job.”
She has nothing but praise for Barden. “She’s phenomenal. She is a wonderful educator, she has been able to walk me through the process of becoming a teacher and the ins and outs of working in a classroom,” she said, stating that her years of work in the district have given her a unique perspective on working in a school environment. 
“I feel really blessed because I’ve now gotten the behind the scenes work that goes into education and now I’m first-hand with the kids with my mentor teacher, so it’s just been a really cool transition to be able to have that background knowledge,” said Funchion. 
“It’s been a phenomenal opportunity and I do feel very, very thankful that Tecumseh really partnered and gave me this opportunity. I’m super thankful and I love working for Tecumseh Public Schools,” she said.
Those eligible for the Talent Together program include any Michigan resident with a minimum of a high school diploma and strong interest in becoming an educator, paraeducators who have yet to complete their bachelor’s degree, substitute teachers who have a bachelor’s degree and still need to earn certification, parents and community members interested in teaching as a career, and professionals who wish to change careers. For more information, visit mitalenttogether.org.


Tecumseh Herald


110 E. Logan St.
P.O. Box 218
Tecumseh, MI 49286

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