WCPS aims to hire 18 more certified teachers, targets WKU ed students
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - WBKO News continues coverage regarding the ongoing teacher shortage crisis. Warren County Public Schools explains how they are trying to tackle the issue by connecting with future educators.
“I’m excited to be a teacher,” expressed Andi Helton, WKU student.
The enthusiasm from some future educators stems from the critical need for them.
“We’re running out of teachers, we are running out of good teachers,” said Andi Helton.
Helton is a senior elementary education major at WKU; and while she doesn’t fear her job security, she does have concerns about the overall industry amid the nationwide teacher shortages.
“There’s a lot of unknowns about the industry itself and like where it’s gonna go in the future and because it is so underfunded like, Will I have to buy all my supplies? Will that be provided for me? But I think there is hope in that for me because I feel like I’ll always have a job. And there’ll always be a place that needs a good teacher.”
The Kentucky Department of Education says 72 percent of current teachers are at risk of leaving their jobs soon.
“There is a shortage of specifically in some areas, our math and our sciences are always and I think that’s a national trend as well.
The Warren County Public School District employs 968 certified teachers and currently has 18 teacher openings. To combat the teacher shortage, the district is offering incentives to help with recruitment and retention.
The district provides funding to each school to develop a school-based mentorship for experienced, new teammates. The internship has evolved so now not only do the intern mentors receive a free WKU class credit, but the interns are also now eligible for WKU graduate credit for completing the internship.
“We have a new Teacher Academy, and we do a partnership with Western Kentucky University. And once our new teachers go through our internship program, which is in conjunction with Western Kentucky, they get graduate credit,” said Melissa Stephanski, Chief Academic Officer at Warren Co. Public Schools. “That is fully funded by the school district. And it allows us to be able to pour into our teachers and give them something in return.”
Through the GameChangers program in partnership with WKU, the district aims to help more black and underrepresented teachers earn their teaching credentials.
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“We’re really wanting to see our teaching staff mirror our student body as well. We have some things to help encourage people to get into administration and well,” said Stephanski.
The Warren County School District set up a booth at Western’s Welcome Back WKU event back in August. There, staff and faculty met with education majors as the district focuses on recruitment. The district also provided substitute teacher sign-ups, as they are experiencing a shortage there as well-- another critical issue among districts.
While state leaders meet and discuss ways to address the teacher shortage, future educators are stating the obvious solution.
“Teachers are very underpaid. I think people underestimate the amount of work that teachers do and the amount of stuff that goes into being a teacher,” expressed Helton.
Underpaid and overworked are two critical issues that are constantly brought up; however, for some passionate, future teachers, it’s not bad enough to keep them away from the classroom.
“I hope that in the future when I do teach, which will probably be next fall, that I can be a role model, a support system and just a good happy face for these kids,” said Helton.
Apply to Warren County Public Schools here.
MORE: Ky. Educators express alarming concern for teacher shortage
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