NKU partners with Beechwood Schools to increase teacher workforce

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Written by Anna Azallion for WCPO

Northern Kentucky University is partnering with local school districts to help give high schoolers a head start on a college degree and to help address the teacher shortage.

Eileen Shanahan, the Chair of the Department of Teacher Preparation and Education Studies at NKU said the school-based scholars program started as a way to give high school students access to higher education sooner. It allows students to take classes at their high school and get both high school and college credit.

“We think that when students start to give them opportunities to pursue their passions earlier on, then we’ll get more students who have an interest in the field,” she said.

Now, with a teacher shortage nationwide, Shanahan said the Education Pathway of the program is also a strategy to address the teacher shortage.

One local district NKU partnered with is Beechwood Independent Schools.

A senior in the district, Grace Lyon is in the Intro to Education class and said for her, it’s about helping people, like her teachers have helped her.

“I moved around a lot as a kid,” she said. “It was very hard to like make friends and stuff and so when I came to Beechwood, there were specific teachers who just made me feel very welcome and I just wanted to be that positive role model for a kid.”

C.J. Fryer teaches the class at Beechwood High School and said it’s a mix of classroom observation, group discussion and studying from a textbook.

“It helps give that student a clear picture of one, do I want to do this?” he said. “A lot of students say ‘oh, I know I want to teach high school’ and then they start watching an elementary classroom and they’re just blown away by the joy and the fun that comes with that youthful energy of students.”

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Fryer said he tries to share a balanced view of the profession with his students.

“I’ll tell you it is the most rewarding profession out there,” he said. “But also we want to be honest about some of the other sides of teaching, some of the challenges. The shortage we’re facing as a workforce, the salary issues, all of those different things.”

For Lyon, it’s making an impact.

“I just feel very ready and I feel like if I went to my college now and was sitting in a college of education class, I would have a lot more knowledge than the other freshmen in that room,” she said.

Shanahan said students also have the option to take the NKU classes online, if their high school hasn’t partnered with NKU. You can find more information here.

This story originally appeared at WCPO.com.

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