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U.S. facing major teacher shortage

U.S. facing major teacher shortage

WINONA, Minn. (WKBT) - The country is facing its first major teacher shortage since the 1990's.   

Officials with the teaching program at Winona State University say the problem is getting worse.

But one student who graduated Friday hopes more people like him will help change the trend.

Like many recent graduates, Grant Gill has been waiting for this moment. But unlike some graduates, he already began that next chapter one year ago, when he landed a job teaching math in St. Charles while he was still a student himself.

"I get to go in there and I try and bring energy that they might not see from a normal teacher." Gill said.

He was hired during his final year of college while student teaching. But while this high demand job is good for new graduates, it's part of a much bigger problem.

"We have teacher shortages in various areas, included in those would be special education, math and science, said Jane Morken, director of Clinical Practice at Winona State University.

She said there's no easy fix.

"Teachers nationwide are feeling a little bit beat up, there's a lot of testing that they're being held accountable for which I'm not saying is good or bad, but it seems as though to me that there is a lot of burden that's been put on the place of teachers."

Part of the struggle comes from low pay and fewer students enrolling in teaching programs.

Another part is keeping teachers in the profession.

"You know teachers leave the profession, there is a statistic that half the teachers leave the profession within the first five years," Morken said.

She said it's negatively impacting children, who thrive off of consistency. But Gill says he's hoping he can help to break that cycle.

"When you have a teacher that really truly cares about all the students, and their well-being, that's when you can make a difference. It might just be one kid's life but if you can change one kid's life then it's worth doing for."

Winona State education program officials say this is the first semester where they've had districts reaching out to them wanting to hire students during their student-teaching semester.

A total of five student teachers from Winona have accepted full-time teaching positions before graduating.

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