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Posted: December 13, 2019

Why Teach?

In her weekly message, Superintendent Reedy writes about recruiting more teachers.

Why teach?

To inspire and to be inspired.

To challenge and to be challenged.

To value and to be valued. 

To make a difference in the lives of young people who someday will make a difference in our world.  

That’s the beauty of public education; you get as much as you give. I remember as a classroom teacher how exhausted I felt at the end of the day. But I also remember the exhilaration. Satisfaction. Hope. I saw so much promise in my students, and I knew that through my knowledge, guidance, and – yes – patience, I could help unleash that potential.  

There are few professions as important or as rewarding as teaching. So why aren’t more people becoming teachers? According to MarketWatch, back in the 1970s when I first entered the profession, more than a fifth of college students majored in education. Now, fewer than one in 10 Americans are going into education. New Mexico State University reported a 43 percent decrease over the past decade in the number of students completing a traditional educator prep program – with a 12 percent drop just last year!  

We have to convince college students as well as professionals looking for a career change that public education is a worthy path to take. Our students deserve quality teachers. Our teachers deserve to work alongside capable colleagues. Our principals and staff deserve to work in support of dedicated educators.

That’s why the Albuquerque Public Schools Human Resources Department has stepped up teacher recruitment efforts. This includes everything from hosting local job fairs, boosting out-of-state recruitment efforts, and creating marketing materials (including the video below) to developing partnerships with colleges, universities, and the teacher’s union to prepare future educators.

The Albuquerque Teacher Residency Partnership is a great example of the collaboration between APS and UNM to address the teacher shortage. The program provides paid internships for student teachers as they prepare for their roles as educators. Through this program, each teacher resident gets a $15,000 stipend and a full year of teacher residency, compared to 16 weeks of unpaid classroom experience common in more traditional teacher preparation programs.  

We also are working with CNM and the Albuquerque Teacher’s Federation on an alternative pathway to becoming a special education teacher. Individuals with a bachelor's degree in any subject can become a licensed special education teacher in 15 months through the Special Education Teacher Training (SETT) program. Through this program, teacher candidates get paid as they take classes and co-teach alongside a seasoned educator.

CNM also has a scholarship that supports EAs who want to become teachers. The Grow Your Own Teachers Scholarship covers tuition, fees and other educational-related expenses for students who are employed as educational assistants in public schools. 

Recruitment and educational opportunities like these are beginning to pay off. While we still have some teacher vacancies, especially in the area of special education, we are seeing lower rates than in the past few years.

I’m sure better pay is helping, too. The starting salary for new teachers increased by 14 percent this school year. Most experienced teachers saw increases of 10 percent or more. Others saw a 7 percent increase. The hope is that this will help retain more professionals in the field. 

If you know a college student who isn’t sure what to study or a professional who is looking for a career change, encourage them to think about teaching. We’re always looking for committed educators to join the APS team. Whether you’re a teacher, administrator, or part of the staff that supports our students and schools, you are an important part of this team and I appreciate you.