Union Public Schools launches pilot program to help students become teachers

Oklahoma currently is facing a dramatic and severe teacher shortage. And, Union Public Schools decided enough was enough.

This year, Union Public Schools launched a pilot program, Teach Oklahoma, to help recruit and develop its own teachers, aiming the program at students considering a career in education. The program is aligned with the Teach Oklahoma programs offered by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, and Union officials reached out to Oral Roberts University to create a partnership with its education professors.

“Oklahoma, like other states, is experiencing a major shortage in the teacher workforce,” said Dr. Kim Boyd, ORU Dean of Education. Boyd also teaches classes in the Union pilot program.

“Union has a vision to begin recruiting and developing its own teachers,” Boyd said. “Union reached out to ORU to see if we would be interested in working with them in this program.  We were pleased to work with them to develop a partnership with their P-12 schools that is beneficial to ORU and that also meets the needs of Union students.”

In addition to the curriculum taught, the students have the opportunity to immediately apply their knowledge and skills they learned in real-life circumstances. Participating students also take part in a practicum experience in elementary classrooms, in which they work with students and mentor teachers. The program also partners with Junior Achievement, and these future teachers have the opportunity to teach the JA curriculum to Union elementary students. The Union high school students also earn college credit for participating in the program.

Boyd said the program not only helps students start to achieve their goal of becoming a teacher, it also helps bring awareness to the calling that is teaching.

“It is imperative that this nation changes the perception of the education profession, if we intend to recruit bright young people who are dedicated to a career in education,” Boyd said. “I believe this program and programs that are similar are a catalyst to begin to facilitate such a change.  The young people in Union’s Teach Oklahoma program are very smart and enthusiastic.  I want to build on their excitement by delivering a program that provides a realistic view about how hard and complicated teaching is while at the same time convincing them that there is no higher calling then that of an educator.”

In October, the students in the program will have the opportunity to go to ORU to participate in the university’s education conference. The Officers of the Teacher Candidate Leadership Association, in which all ORU education majors are members, will host the Union future teachers.

“I would like to see this group of young people solidify their calling to become educators and to pursue the preparation of their career at ORU as education majors,” Boyd said. “I believe it is the obligation of veteran educators to inspire and help prepare the next generation of educators. It is therefore my desire to develop in those who desire to become classroom teachers, the knowledge, skills and dispositions necessary to impact P-12 learners.”