WACO, TX — McLennan Community College is one of two Texas community colleges to receive a TEA commendation on the work they do preparing current students to serve in rural Texas school districts.
This is the second year the college received such recognition.
MCC is working to replenish the teacher shortage in McLennan County and across Central Texas, mainly in small town schools.
There was a teacher shortage before the pandemic began, but school districts say that's only made the problem worse.
Laura Conrad is the assistant program director for Alternative Teaching Certification at MCC. She says they work closely with districts because a state shortage can look different at the local level.
"That really helps our candidates get hired quickly in the local school districts, but then it also helps the local school districts fill the needs that they have," Conrad said.
In education, children are number one, and making sure districts are equipped with the right teachers is what MCC works to provide.
"That's our way of pouring into the education and into the lives of those children that are in our community," Conrad said.
Moody ISD Superintendent Gary Martel says getting people who want to work in a rural community can be difficult, but there are positives to being in a small town.
"It can be nice in a smaller setting where their class sizes are smaller and where everyone knows each other. Pay... pay has really improved," Martel said.
Moody ISD and MCC also work together to provide current high school graduates college credit through MCC, hoping a few of their students find interest in the education profession and then work their way back to Moody ISD.
Moody ISDk uses several avenues to get recent college graduates to look at smaller schools.
"We're working very hard now to go to job fairs, get them kind of early as they're getting ready to graduate and say, 'Hey, here's what we can offer,'" Martel said.
According to the Texas Workforce Commission, 65,000 middle school teaching jobs will be needed in the next decade. More than 60,000 secondary education jobs will also need to be filled.
With a shortage already at hand, MCC is working to solve a problem they're not sure has an end.
"We do this so that they [school districts] can fill their teaching positions and get their classrooms with teachers who are well prepared and ready to teach on day one," Conrad said.
The TEA has laid out the educational fields with the highest shortages below for the 2020-21 school year, as approved by the United States Department of Education.
- Bilingual/English as a Second Language – Elementary and Secondary Levels
- Special Education – Elementary and Secondary Levels
- Career and Technical Education – Secondary Levels
- Technology Applications and Computer Science – Elementary and Secondary Levels
- Mathematics – Secondary Levels
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