Grow your own
Kentucky School Advocate
By Matt McCarty
Administrators who have trouble attracting enough quality teachers to their district might try to encourage their own students to pursue an education degree in hopes they will want to return home to teach.
“We’re really trying to promote a grow-your-own philosophy,” said Jimmy Adams, executive director of the Education Professional Standards Board.
Adams pointed to Educators Rising programs, which used to be known as Future Educators of America, as a way schools can try to promote the teaching profession among students.
The program helps students learn more about the education field to determine if it’s the career they want to pursue.
Dr. Laurie Henry, associate dean for the University of Kentucky College of Education, said it is launching its own version of Educators Rising program this fall. The college will work with some area districts, including Fayette County, and the students will have an opportunity to earn dual credit.
“What we’re working on building here is opportunities for dual credit so students who are in high school interested in the Educators Rising and becoming a future teacher would actually have opportunities to take some courses in education for dual credit,” Henry said.
Schools can have an Educators Rising organization without involvement of a university or college.
“If some of them just do more like a student organization, I think the benefit is for the students an opportunity to really explore the profession and have some opportunities to learn a little bit more about what it means to go into the education field, learn a little bit more about the different types of career paths that are available in education,” Henry said.
Murray State brings in about 170 to 180 high school students in the fall to give them information about becoming teachers.
Kem Cothran, who works in MSU’s Teacher Quality Institute, said principals and teachers speak to the students about “why they should teach in those critical shortage areas.”
She said the overview also includes resume building, mock job interviews and a tour of the college of education.
Through the Racer Academy, students can earn three hours of credit for an entry level education class. Last year, more than 90 students earned the dual credit and if those students major in education at Murray, they get a $500 scholarship for two semesters.
Cindy Thresher, who also works with MSU’s Teacher Quality Institute, said she and Cothran visit high schools and talk to principals about their Educators Rising program. On a couple of occasions, the principal asked them to speak to a student about the program.
Fleming County High School Principal Stephanie Emmons said her school hasn’t had an Educators Rising program, but plans to start one.
“There are some bright young men and young women (here) so I said if you’re wanting to come back to Fleming County you should look at teaching. … So that’s something that we’re looking to get organized.”
Crittenden County Superintendent Vince Clark said encouraging your own students to pursue an education degree is good in theory, but doesn’t always work out.
“We’ve had kids go to college to be high school math-certified. You have to take four semesters of calculus and that’s a deal breaker for a lot of kids,” he said. “Why take four semesters of calculus when chances are you’re not going to be teaching that? That’s a lot of pressure, a lot of stress in their life to be a teacher, where if they do take four semesters of calculus they can probably get a job making at least twice the money with a degree like that.”