WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – It’s no secret Kansas is struggling to get and keep teachers.
It’s become such an issue, some districts are now forced to get creative, using Transition to Teaching programs.
Wichita State University has had their Transition to Teaching Program for almost 20 years.
Starting at the beginning of the month, 50 students began coursework in the program.
Some of them, like Natalie Olmsted, are just getting their feet wet.
Olmsted currently works at WSU’s Dental Residency and says it took her more than 10 years to get to this point.
“I always in the back of my mind wanted to teach and two years ago I looked into the Transition to Teaching Program and was just finally able to do it this Spring,” said Olmsted.
Olmsted says she has two degrees in English and is now changing careers.
In the fall, she’ll be starting as a sixth to eight grade English teacher for Christ The King Catholic School.
She’s using the Transition to Teaching Program at WSU to get prepared.
“I’ve never taught in front of a classroom, but they are really preparing us very well in the classes we are taking now,” said Olmsted.
It’s something Nathan Christner, journalism teacher at Wichita Southeast High School can attest to.
He’s in his second year of the program and already has a year of teaching under his belt.
“You’re kind of learning on the job, it’s nice the way they structure it, a lot of your assignments while you are actually teaching during the semester, are things you can actually apply in the classroom,” said Christner.
Dr. Jim Granada is the Director of the Transition to Teaching Program.
He says the two year program also helps replenish a Kansas teaching pool that has dwindled over the past few years.
“Partly, we will fill the niche for places that maybe undergraduates aren’t prone to go to, and our folks, they have the calling, they are changing careers,” said Dr. Granada.
Something that students like Olmsted say is a major reason why she’s becoming a teacher.
“When I kept hearing there was less and less teachers, or less and less young people being interested in becoming educators, I really felt it was time, because our students, they need really good teachers,” said Olmsted.
Dr. Granada says these students will continue coursework throughout the Fall and Spring while they are teaching.
He says it allows them to continue to learn while on the job and also get feedback on how they are doing in classroom.