Missouri Education Department wants to launch high school program to recruit future teachers

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The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) wants to create a new program designed to shape high school students into future teachers. It is requesting $200,000 dollars in its FY2022 state budget to launch the “Grow Your Own” program.

During a state Board of Education meeting, DESE Chief Budget Officer Jennifer Jordan says the funding would award about 40 school districts with startup grants.

“This funding will provide startup grants to school districts with high-minority, high-poverty, and rural schools to build Grow Your Own programs to ensure future leaders in hard-to-staff content areas and geographical locations,” says Jordan.

Dr. Tracy Hinds, deputy commissioner of the Division of Learning Services, says recruiting teachers and keeping them are top priorities of the department.

“We are going to intentionally build our educator workforce from within through our Grow Your Own program,” says Hinds. “Our schools will become an innovative hub that will grow and develop talent to successfully enter the education field. We are also experiencing a teacher shortage as far as teachers leaving the field in record numbers, particularly during the first five years.”

Pay is another problem with keeping teachers around. Missouri’s average teacher salary is about $42,000 – ranking it about 42nd in the nation.

Hinds says part of the department’s strategic plan is to partner with teacher preparation programs to re-evaluate expectations. The plan also includes strengthening its mentorship programs for teachers in the field to provide better ways for teachers to reach out for support, feedback, and observations from their peers.

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