NKU preparing teachers for classrooms as some areas face shortages

Posted at 4:30 AM, Aug 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-23 16:20:51-04

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. -- As schools are getting started on their new year, there's a persistent problem in some areas: not enough teachers.

That shortage includes geographic areas and subject areas, according to Roland Sintos Coloma, the Northern Kentucky University Department of Teacher Education chair.

"A lot of our rural school districts, also a lot of our urban school districts have turnover and retirements that we're not able to fill at this point," he said.

The U.S. Department of Education tracks teacher shortages. This school year, Northern Kentucky doesn't have enough teachers in areas like math, early childhood education and foreign language.

That means teachers like Denisse Fernandez, a senior education major at NKU, will be in demand when she graduates. Fernandez said she plans to teach Spanish.

"I want to make a difference in other people's lives," she said.

One of the challenges to attracting teachers is pay. First-year teachers in Kentucky make, on average, in the low- to mid-$30,000s.

"Parents and communities entrust their children to us," Coloma said. "So, I think the kind of work that we as teachers do should be properly compensated."

NKU partners with nearby schools to send student teachers into classrooms.

"Being in those schools provides us with a visibility and impact right away," Coloma said.

Starting this year, NKU is working with Kenton County Schools to allow high schoolers to take education classes and get dual credit. It could even allow some to enter college as a sophomore or junior.