SD Embraces Movement to Inspire Future Teachers
Monday, November 14, 2022
Teacher shortages have been a focal point in the world of education, but some working in the field say there should be more conversations about the benefits of pursuing these careers, and engagement work is building in South Dakota.
Five years ago, South Dakota established a statewide affiliate of the national Educators Rising organization. Local chapters interact with high school students through monthly meetings and exercises in hopes of inspiring teenagers to choose teaching as a profession.
Travis Lape, state director for Educators Rising, who works in the Harrisburg district, said schools around the state need to realize they don't have to look far in recruiting.
"Future teachers are sitting in our desks right now, they're in our classrooms," Lape pointed out. "And so, how can we invest in them now to show them the value of going off getting their degree and then coming back home for being a teacher in their small community or where they grew up."
The statewide network also organizes expos at South Dakota universities, where local members learn about programs and courses needed to obtain a degree in education. Lape noted they now have more than 30 local chapters across South Dakota.
Tracy Kern, adviser for Educators Rising, who also works in the Harrisburg District, said while the profession is often cited for wage and morale issues, the world needs to know there are teachers who love the job.
"I wake up every morning, and I am not dreading going to work," Kern explained. "I get to school, and I get the students right in front of me. And to me, that is the best thing is to be able to work with them."
South Dakota has consistently ranked near the bottom when it comes to teacher salaries. State organizers with Educators Rising added while salaries should not be the lone motivating factor in pursuing teaching, policymakers could help by finding solutions to reduce the debt burden for those just starting their careers.
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