Commissioner Lewis talks recruiting and retaining teachers with the TAC

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Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis talks with the Teachers Advisory Council during its July 22 meeting at the Kentucky Department of Education.
Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis talks with the Teachers Advisory Council during its July 22 meeting at the Kentucky Department of Education. Lewis spoke about the importance of Kentucky recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers to combat the current teacher shortage.
Photo by Danielle Harris, July 22, 2019
  • The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) is looking to combat the teacher shortage through the newly announced Go Teach KY initiative.
  • KDE has supported the recruiting and retention of teachers with the Educator’s Rising program.

By Jacob Perkins
Jacob.perkins@education.ky.gov

The Teachers Advisory Council (TAC) – which is comprised of about 40 teacher leaders from across the Commonwealth – discussed the importance of recruiting and retaining educators at its July 22 meeting in Frankfort.

Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis told the TAC that one of the ways that the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) is looking to combat this problem is through the newly announced Go Teach KY initiative.

Go Teach KY will address the teacher shortage affecting Kentucky by highlighting the pathways to alternative teaching certifications.

“Kentucky, as a state, has more routes to certification than most other states that I’ve heard of,” Lewis said. “We have done a miserable job at the state level of communicating to districts, to potential teachers and everybody involved of what the possibilities are of coming into the profession.”

This is the Go Teach KY logo.While Lewis is concerned about the quality of teacher preparation and certification in general, he said that the hiring decisions in some districts isn’t as simple as finding traditionally certified or alternatively certified teachers.

“In many of our school districts and in many of our subject areas, it is not a choice of a traditionally certified teacher or an alternative certified teacher. It’s an alternative certified teacher or no teacher at all,” Lewis said. “That’s an important part of this conversation that gets missed. The reality is, for lots of these positions, nobody is applying.”

Another concern that was brought up by the TAC was the lack of minority teachers in the state and that the suspension of the Kentucky Teacher Internship Program (KTIP) has since halted any incentive to become a mentor for students that are interested in becoming an educator.

KTIP was an internship program designed to provide assistance to new teachers. Its main goal was to help new teachers experience a successful first year in the classroom. During the 2018 legislative session, the General Assembly passed House Bill 200, which provided the executive branch budget for 2018-2019 and 2019-2020. Within the bill, no funding was provided for the operational costs of KTIP. The final operating academic year for the program was 2017-2018.

“I don’t think that it’s realistic that we could get funding back at the level KTIP was,” Lewis said. “In the absence of KTIP, some school districts across the state have developed some really impressive induction programs that quite frankly, go well above and beyond KTIP.”

Lewis said he is considering whether to ask the General Assembly for more funding to require KTIP participation across all Kentucky districts or to ask for funding that would go to school districts to support local induction programs.

One way that KDE has supported recruiting teachers is through the Educators Rising program. The Educators Rising curriculum, which can be offered through the Teaching and Learning pathway, gives high school students that are interested in education a hands-on teaching experience, sustains their interest in the profession and helps them develop the skills they need to be successful educators.

According to the Educators Rising website, more than 60% of educators teach within 20 miles of where they went to high school. With a shortage of teachers in Kentucky, Lewis said, groups like Educators Rising Kentucky are key to getting students interested in the education profession.

 “It takes teachers to recruit teachers,” Lewis said. “Especially with young people going into the profession, whether it’s our Teaching and Learning pathways at the high school level or recruiting folks into additional preparation programs, there’s a lot of utility in using young teachers.”

Lewis added that he thought that it was important for students that are considering education as a career to learn why other teachers are passionate about what they do and to learn about the impact that they can have on the lives of those that they teach.

Miles Johnson, an art teacher at Warner Elementary (Jessamine County), offered to make a video testimonial on why he enjoys teaching to share with students that may be considering teaching as a career path. This video will be used as part of the Go Teach KY campaign.

Lainey Neal, 5th-grade teacher at Northview Elementary School (Montgomery County), said she is pleased that her daughter does want to become a teacher.

“Teachers work hard and there are negatives in what we do,” she said. “Sometimes we forget to let people see all of the fun stuff. You forget that there is so much wonderful that happens inside the school buildings and we need to remember to let those 17-, 18-, 19-year-old kids see that wonderful.”

Also discussed in the TAC meeting were the resources available on KyStandards.org.

The website contains links to the Kentucky Academic Standards documents, resources to support the implementation of the new standards and information regarding the standards revision process. Additional resources include facilitator’s guides and accompanying PowerPoint presentations that can be used by districts, schools or departments to support implementation of the standards.

Users also can subscribe to email updates so they are notified when there are additions to the standards.

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