Facing a teacher shortageThe Jefferson Parish School System this month launched a new internal certification program aimed at attracting more qualified instructors to its classrooms.
The year-long program, called “Embarquer,” provides prospective teachers with training that eventually leads to certification and employment with the system, said Laura Roussel, the system’s director of studies.
Teachers who enter the program pay nothing, but must commit to teaching in Jefferson Parish for three years after completing their training. Already, 17 teachers have signed up, a number that system officials hope to increase.
“We have a teacher shortage across the country and in our region as well,” Roussel said. “It just gives us a chance to be part of the solution.
The move puts Jefferson in line with a handful of other school districts in the state that have launched similar programs as districts struggle to obtain and keep certified educators.
State Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley told a legislative committee in March that Louisiana was short of 2,500 certified teachers, possibly affecting about 50,000 students. Higher Education Commissioner Kim Hunter Reed called the situation a “crisis”.
In Jefferson, the state’s largest school system, schools have also struggled to fill vacancies, after years of declining numbers of college graduates pursuing teaching careers. Although administrators and the school board convinced voters in 2019 to support a new property tax that would raise teachers’ salaries, the coronavirus pandemic has pushed more teachers into retirement in recent years.
The parish currently has about 225 teaching vacancies, although the number fluctuates, a spokesperson said.
Teachers generally must have a bachelor’s degree, complete a teacher preparation program, and pass certain exams to become certified in Louisiana. Jefferson’s program will allow teachers to obtain this training and certification in-house, which will help district leaders identify quality talent, Roussel said.
She said the program will also help teacher candidates familiarize themselves with district processes and staff, so they can settle in quickly.
“It can be difficult for a new teacher to come into a school and a district,” Roussel said. “By offering the training, they have touch points with people at the school level who can start supporting them from day one.”
Mallory Young, 31, already has some of that support. Young heard about the program from her father, who works at Jefferson Parish Schools and helped her apply.
Although Young spent the last year teaching special education and business at Riverdale High School on an emergency certification, she wants to earn a full special education certification and teach English to students in grades six through eight. twelfth year.
“I like to write a lot,” she said.
One of Young’s classmates in the program is Ian Stern, 51, who moved to New Orleans four years ago with his wife, a special education teacher.
Although Stern began a teacher certification program at Xavier soon after, it was cut short by the pandemic. He spent time teaching in New Orleans, but after his wife started working for Jefferson Parish, he also wanted to move.
“I wanted to go somewhere with a real neighborhood and real support,” he said. Stern called himself a “bit of a masochist” because he wants to teach seventh and eighth graders.
“I love building relationships with students,” Stern said.