John Deere Waterloo Operations’ donation to Teach Waterloo helps diversify district’s teacher workforce

John Deere Waterloo Operations’ donation to Teach Waterloo helps diversify district’s teacher workforce

Teacher with students raising their hands

Teach Waterloo, a partnership forged between the University of Northern Iowa and the Waterloo Community School District, will receive $100,000 in funding from John Deere Waterloo Operations. This is to support the Teach Waterloo mission to grow and diversify the local educator workforce.  

Through Teach Waterloo, paraeducators and other support personnel of color in the school district can earn their teacher licensure through UNI. 

Started in 2018, this “grow your own” program has seen three students, or fellows, in the first cohort graduate. Two more from a second cohort will graduate this spring, with six others continuing their coursework. With this funding, following the previous announcement of an additional $300,000 donation from the Waterloo School’s Foundation, 16 new fellows will begin their education this fall. 

“As Teach Waterloo continues its success, this financial support from John Deere Waterloo Operations allows us to strengthen and accelerate our mission of diversifying the teacher workforce in Waterloo,” said Colleen Mulholland, dean of the College of Education. “We appreciate this partnership and collaboration.”

While approximately 55% of Waterloo public school students identify as racial or ethnic minorities, only 6% of the teachers do. Teach Waterloo addresses barriers to entry into the teaching profession among racial and ethnic minorities, and, in turn, provides students of color with role models in the classroom. Research has shown that when students of color see teachers of color in their classrooms, they achieve greater levels of success in school. 

“Together we have a responsibility to create home, school and community environments that nurture and protect our children’s potential,” said Lynette Telleen, John Deere Power Systems program management manager. “The Teach Waterloo program will have a direct impact on teachers who can inspire and empower our youth with a level of shared perspective and relatability. It will also have a significant influence on the earning potential of the participants. All in all, a win for our students, a win for the Waterloo school district and a win for our community.”

“The headway we’re making as a school district to diversify our staff is incredibly exciting and wouldn't be possible without support from the pillars of our community like John Deere,” said Kingsley Botchway, Waterloo Schools chief officer for human resource and equity. “Teach Waterloo is an access point to the teaching profession for highly qualified individuals already invested in our community and schools. We’re proud that we’re not only becoming a destination district for some of the brightest talent in the country, but we’re also creating opportunities for those we have right here, right now.”

The John Deere funding is part of the commitment announced by its foundation last year to invest $200 million over the next 10 years. The investments are centered on empowering the most vulnerable members of the local communities surrounding John Deere locations and will go to a wide variety of organizations.

This $100,000 will add four new fully funded scholarships for support staff who want to become teachers. This is in addition to 12 existing spots which are funded by the $300,000 donation from the Waterloo Schools Foundation. 

The College of Education provides fellows with support from advisers, UNI admissions specialists and student success coaches, as well as coursework and guidance toward degree completion and licensure. Waterloo Schools contributes textbooks, a district liaison for the students as well as flexibility and support that allows fellows to attend class while remaining employed. The R.J. McElroy Charitable Trust supports student tuition and fees.

To become a fellow, an individual must work in Waterloo schools as a paraeducator or another type of support staff, hold an associate degree or have completed at least 60 college credits, and receive an endorsement from a building principal or school administrator. After earning their teacher licensure, the fellows must commit to working at Waterloo schools for three years. 

The Waterloo Community School District is one of the 10 largest school districts of Iowa’s 377 public school systems and is home to a student population of approximately 10,555 students. The district covers an area of approximately 150 square miles and includes schools in Waterloo, Evansdale, Elk Run Heights, Gilbertville and Raymond, as well as part of Cedar Falls and some unincorporated areas in Black Hawk County. 


Stacy McGauvran-Hruby, Marketing & Communications Manager, College of Education, 319-273-7615,