Western Michigan University has secured a $4.9 million U.S. Department of Education grant to help it find teachers for Benton Harbor Area Schools and Kalamazoo Public Schools. WMU says a new partnership between it and the two districts will develop a pipeline to fill that need. The federal grant will be used to spearhead the Urban Teacher Residency Program, which will pay for candidates within the districts — like paraprofessionals, bus drivers, food service staff, and custodians — to earn their teacher certification while they work. WMU says that will mitigate some of the barriers that impede qualified candidates from pursuing a career. The program will use a teacher residency model that includes a yearlong clinical experience with the required coursework for certification. Residents will receive coaching and feedback as they apply what they’re learning in the classroom to their coursework. The goal is to produce at least 90 certified teachers who will be placed in full-time teaching positions at both Benton Harbor Area Schools and Kalamazoo Public Schools within three years.