Grow Your Own Peoria fundraiser

Posted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 2/25/2019 8:40:00 AM

On Monday, March 11, from 4 to 7 p.m. Grow Your Own (GYO) of Illinois and The Peoria Federation of Teachers Local 780 will host a fundraiser at Mariachi Mexican Restaurant, 1818 W. War Memorial Drive. Twenty percent of the sales from food and beverages will support GYO initiatives in Peoria.


GYO partners with school districts, colleges and universities, and community organizations to support parents, community members and paraprofessionals in becoming highly qualified teachers. GYO seeks to address the shortage of teachers, particularly teachers of color and from underserved communities, so that the teachers in our schools are as diverse as our students and the families we serve.


GYO provides vital support for aspiring teachers, helping them overcome financial, academic and social hurdles as they pursue their teaching license. In return, GYO teachers agree to teach in our local public schools.


In Peoria, Linda Wilson, the technology teacher at Trewyn School, coordinates the district’s GYO efforts with support from the Peoria Federation of Teachers Local 780.


Wilson grew up in Peoria and attended public schools. She attended Illinois Central College (ICC) but with young children and a job as a teacher’s aide, she was limited to taking classes sporadically.


“In 2008, the district began participating in GYO,” says Wilson. “They encouraged non-traditional students to apply. GYO was a godsend. I had amazing mentors and support from my fellow students who were also juggling school, families and jobs.” The Urban League was instrumental to those early GYO candidates, lending tutoring services and a meeting space. GYO ended up financing Wilson’s education through stipends and forgivable loans.


Wilson now holds a bachelor’s degree from Bradley University in early childhood education, a Master of Science degree from St. Xavier University in curriculum and instruction, and a Master of Arts in educational administration. “I’m interested in helping the GYO effort to increase minority recruitment,” says Wilson. “PPS has about 13,000 students. Fifty-seven percent of our students are African-American, 21 percent are Caucasian and about 11 percent Hispanic, yet only 6.7 percent of our teachers are African-American and less than three percent are Hispanic. We also need more men of color teaching in our schools.”


Please mark your calendar for March 11. Enjoy a delicious dinner and support our efforts to bring new highly-qualified teachers to the Peoria Public Schools. For more information, contact Linda Wilson at To make a donation online, visit


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