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Local program aims to address state teacher shortage

Published: Jan. 27, 2022 at 8:35 PM CST
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Texas classrooms are losing teachers at an alarming rate.

A 2021 Texas Teacher Workforce report found that many new teachers are quitting after their first year. The study was conducted from 2010 to 2020 using a cohort of 13,373 new Texas teachers. The report shows that the cohort dropped to 11,703 (87.5%) going into the second year. That was the biggest decline over the study’s span.

By 2020, there were only 6,664 teachers in that cohort still in the classroom. The research states that some of the teachers’ reasons for leaving are the lack of diversity, compensation, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rudder High School teacher Lisa Hendrix believes teachers may also leave the profession after their first year because of the amount of work. Hendrix said new teachers may have a vision of what they think education will be but not be able to handle responsibilities like classroom management, lesson plans, and student learning styles.

Hendrix agrees that the pandemic has also taken a toll on teachers.

“We have had to learn a completely different way and style of teaching that we weren’t familiar with at all,” Hendrix said. “You’re trying to think of how you’re going to be able to reach all of your kids and make sure that they’re learning what they would normally be doing in the classroom but you can’t control their outside situation.”

To help address the teacher shortage, Hendrix helps expose students to the education field through the BVTeach program. The program gives high school freshmen through seniors hands-on experience working with experienced teachers to prepare them for college and a teaching career. Hendrix believes programs like this allow students to know early on if education is what they want to pursue and provide them with the resources and support to succeed if so. She also said this will help raise teacher retention.

“That exposure to the education field that much earlier than waiting until you get to college, you’re learning so much more,” Hendrix said.

Rudder High School junior Neeley Rutledge is in the BVTeach program and works with kindergarteners at Mitchell Elementary. Rutledge’s classroom mentor is her former kindergarten teacher.

“It’s kind of inspiring how you can help somebody so much like in the littlest ways,” Rutledge said.

Rutledge said she has always loved working with kids and babysitting throughout the years, and the program confirmed her desire to teach and coach volleyball.

“I’ve worked with a few of them one-on-one and just seeing their growth already from the beginning to now, it’s just really cool seeing that,” Rutledge said.

Along with being a part of the program, Hendrix said students are also able to get their educational aide certification after they graduate high school. This is an entry-level teaching position that students can do while earning their education degree, according to Hendrix.

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