East Texas school districts implement initiatives to combat teacher shortage

East Texas school districts implement initiatives to combat teacher shortage
Published: Apr. 24, 2023 at 9:53 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 24, 2023 at 10:45 PM CDT
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EAST, Texas (KLTV) - It’s been three years since the pandemic began, and the nationwide teacher shortage continues. However, East Texas school districts are coming together and implementing initiatives to combat the issue.

“I think it’s a situation in which we have to think differently than we’ve ever thought about recruitment of teachers.”

Westwood ISD is just one of the many East Texas school districts that have partnered with UT Tyler to address the problem. Superintendent Wade Stanford says one of the initiatives is a hybrid program for teacher aides to get certified sooner.

“In which they will forego their clinical teaching and they will come in and be a full-time teacher, a teacher of record. And that will be the year that they typically do their clinical teaching or what people remember as student teaching and so it’s a new and innovative way to think so we get them in the classroom one year earlier than we typically would.”

Dr. Yanira Oliveras with the UT Tyler School of Education has also met with East Texas community colleges as a part of another initiative.

“We’re working with all the junior colleges in the area to also create a transition plan for students who have an associates degree in teaching, or an associates degree so that it’s a seamless transition process from the junior college or community college to UT Tyler.”

The nationwide issue is not affecting every school district. In Longview, superintendent Dr. James Wilcox says the district implemented a program over ten years ago. It’s a teacher pay incentive program based on student performance.

“That allows teachers, regular classroom teachers, work in a regular teacher schedule to make up to $30,000 additional on their December check. So basically, that’s why we haven’t had a teacher problem.”

The affected districts and institutions know that the recovery process will be gradual.

“I think we need to be better at promoting our profession and really showing the positive and the benefits of being a teacher.”

“But I think it’s something that we have to expect that we’re going to continue to see it and we’re going to work hard to overcome those barriers.”