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Education Association Tackles Teacher Shortage with ‘Educators Rising’ Program

by Danielle Smith, Keystone State News Connection

The shortage of educators and school staffers has reached a crisis level in some Pennsylvania public schools, prompting a new “Educators Rising” program, which aims to recruit future educators from local high schools.

Ten schools are already participating, with students attending the Central Westmoreland Career and Technology Center to develop teaching skills.

Donna Rain-O’Dell, workforce education coordinator at the center, said in the “Grow Your Own” program at Mount Pleasant High School, the students gain hands-on experience by observing and assisting teachers in classrooms a couple of days a week.

“We actually have some of our students going into classrooms that are teaching small group or mini-lessons,” Rain-O’Dell explained. “Like, one student is teaching Spanish I when she’s a Spanish III student; and then we have a student that’s in AP Bio that’s helping with the biology class. So it’s kind of cool, and it’s definitely a unique situation.”

She pointed out that next year, they will start their first “college in high school” course at the University of Pittsburgh Greensburg campus. Keystone State schools are struggling to fill more than 5,500 vacant teaching positions.

Rena Enterline, vocational rehabilitation counselor for the center, said they partner with The Learning Lamp and Shippensburg University, and students can earn nine credits toward higher education.

“That is more of a dual-enrollment type class,” Enterline noted. “They will take classes through Shippensburg University, and they’ll actually get a transcript through them. And then, they can take those credits and use them at any university that will accept them when they decide to go to college.”

Enterline added current seniors will not have been in the program for two years but can still use the credits they earn this year through the dual enrollment opportunity.

Amanda Funk, CTE instructor at McCaskey High School in Lancaster, said hers is the only Lancaster County high school to have an in-house career and technology program. It attracts a diverse group of students who help out in elementary schools as juniors and seniors, eventually extending to middle schools.

“The goal is to bring them back, and they get a guaranteed interview after college in our district, and then they’ll have that added support,” Funk stressed. “Part of our job description is to actually mentor them through their college years. And then once they come back and get a job in our district, to mentor them there as well.”

Funk added one lesson in the Educators Rising curriculum focuses on anti-bias instruction. She observed students have personally thanked her for classroom discussions on the topic.

The post Education Association Tackles Teacher Shortage with ‘Educators Rising’ Program appeared first on BCTV.

Source: bctv

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