Students need teachers – and there is a growing teacher shortage.
This was the impetus behind Prince William County School’s (PWCS) ‘Growing our Future Teachers’ program, which started in 2007, according to PWCS spokeswoman Kelli Stenhouse.
“The reason [for the program is] there are not enough teachers in traditional teacher preparation programs in colleges across the United States to fill our projected vacancies,” said Stenhouse.
As ‘baby boomers’ continue to retire in large numbers, a critical shortage of incoming teachers is happening throughout the country, said Stenhouse.
In order to curtail this issue, PWCS created a program that helps current PWCS students develop a love for teaching, and provide them with access to educational and employment opportunities as a teacher.
“The idea behind the ‘Growing Our Own’ program is that we will identify students who are currently in our middle and high schools – we will train these students. We’ll recruit them, we’ll train them, we’ll mentor them, and we’ll give them opportunities to explore the teaching profession,” said Stenhouse.
As part of the program, PWCS staff assists the students with college placement, finding scholarships and grants for tuition cost, and helps them to enroll in teacher preparation programs, according to Stenhouse.
All of this is done “…with hopes that they will come back home, to Prince William County schools, and serve as teachers and community leaders in our schools,” Stenhouse said.
According to Stenhouse, a majority of area colleges have 5-year teaching programs that provide students with the necessary teaching credentials, and students that have been involved in the ‘Growing Our Own’ program from it’s inception are just now coming back to the community to teach.
“We are just [now] really seeing a return on the investment. And we are hiring former students every year,” said Stenhouse.
There are currently more than 5 students that completed the program and are now teaching in PWCS schools, and that number is expected to continue to grow, according to Stenhouse.
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