A partnership between Davenport University and Pontiac Public Schools to address the statewide teacher shortage has been a dream come true for Toyè Crawford. The university and the school system offer scholarships for students attending Davenport’s unique College of Urban Education.
Crawford works as a Community in the School coordinator at Whitman Middle School in Pontiac. When the scholarship program was announced, Crawford jumped at the chance to go back to school for her bachelor’s degree in urban education development. Just before the pandemic hit, she’d completed her associate degree in business administration.
“I always wanted to go back to school and complete my degree, but I found a job I love,” Crawford said. “When I learned about this program, I knew it was perfect for the job I have now and the work I want to do in the future.”
Crawford said the Davenport staff she’s worked with have been great, offering her the opportunity to craft a schedule that fits her needs and with the added flexibility necessary to maintain a full-time job. “I feel like I’ve found my place.”
At 38 years old, Crawford has five children. Two of her children have graduated high school since she returned for her bachelor’s degree.
She is a product of Pontiac Public Schools, having graduated from Pontiac Central High School in 2003.
As a Community in the School Coordinator, Crawford helps build relationships between the school, its staff and families. She fills the gaps to help kids stay in school and empowers families to get involved. She also facilitates academic support and after school programs such as tutoring, girls’ basketball, 4-H Club and the Safety Patrol. Recently, she coordinated a Family Fun Night based on STEM concepts.
“Because I’m running so many after-school programs, I’m allowed flex time to take my Davenport classes,” she said. “I’m thankful I’m able to take what I’m learning and immediately apply it to the work I’m doing in the school.”
Crawford is tracking to graduate in Spring 2027. She hopes to work as a teacher and eventually return for her master’s degree to grow as an educator. She’d eventually like to be a principal or district executive.
“I want to be a positive pillar in my community,” said Crawford. “I already have relationships with the families. There was a time when I did not know school was that important. Now, I’m in a place where I can advocate for the importance of education.”
The College of Urban Education provides elementary and secondary teachers with deep expertise in culturally responsive teaching strategies to empower them and their students intellectually, socially, and emotionally. Learn more about the College of Urban Education by visiting davenport.edu/urban-education.