Creating Homegrown Teachers to Solve District's Shortage

Peoria Public Schools is thinking outside the box

PEORIA, Ill. -

Peoria Public Schools is thinking outside the box to help solve a teacher shortage that's being felt locally.

The district is working to create a pipeline for its own students to become future teachers. The whole idea here is to grow those teachers right here in Peoria and keep them here.

The district is collaborating with several local colleges to make that vision reality.

Second-grade teacher Linda Wilson is a natural in the classroom.

"It's very noble to be a teacher and you touch so many lives." Wilson said.

She credits her ability to connect with her students to her own education in the Peoria Public School system.

"Knowing that we shop where they shop, we go to school, we're here with them every day and having those positive interactions with them is really important.” Wilson explained.

The district wants to help make that connection and create more homegrown teachers, like Wilson.

"The whole idea is to continue to align what we're doing in education with our workforce needs." Peoria Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat said.

Those needs are growing with a nationwide teacher shortage being felt here at home. Peoria Public Schools currently has 32 open positions and expects 28 retirees this school year.

"There is an opportunity to grow our own." Dr. Kherat explained.

That's where ICC and several four-year universities come in. The district and the colleges are creating a pipeline for juniors and seniors in the district to take classes that prepare them for a career in education and earn college credit along the way.

"If we can get far more creative about taking our talent coming out of high school and putting them on a path to be ready for the jobs that are available it helps grow the regional economy, it helps the employers with their needs." ICC President, Dr. Sheila Quirk-Bailey, said.

The district has high hopes for the cohort. In the first four years, it's banking on turning forty Peoria Public School students into future Peoria Public School teachers.

"They're familiar with the landscape, familiar with families and the characteristics of the community so it makes perfect sense." Dr. Kherat said.

The district is looking to house the program at Woodruff Career and Technical Center, but says it could also extend to other high schools in the district.

Students in the program will earn between 12 and 15 college credit hours, meaning they could knock out a semester while they're still in high school.


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