Education has never seen a teacher shortage like the one the nation is facing right now, said Professor Kim Pennington, at the Prospective Teachers Academy seminar put on by the University of Central Oklahoma’s College of Education and Professional Studies.
She spoke to a handful of students at the OCCC campus March 24.
Education majors attending the event expressed their concern for, and interest in, the public education community with questions about the national crisis in the teaching profession.
Pennington, who has been in public education for 20 years, lectured the audience about the hard truths and meaningful rewards of being a public educator.
“The state of Oklahoma fluctuates between 47th and 49th as worst state for teacher pay,” she said, noting the salary for beginning teachers is around $31,600.
“Because of this, more teachers are retiring and fewer teachers are entering the teaching profession.”
UCO’s goal is to make it easier for students to graduate into the education field, Pennington said.
“The UCO campus maximizes the classes that you take so that you don’t have to double up on anything,” she said.
“Scholarships are also offered to help people compensate for the cost of a degree in teaching and education.”
Focusing along the lines of financial help, Pennington explained the TEACH Grant Program which offers full-ride federal grants to students who agree to work at a school that serves low-income families for four years after graduation.
Pennington told students how to begin the education pathway, describing the soft and hard deadlines for applications and certification tests.
She ended the seminar with a video of two teachers expressing the passion and fulfillment they have received as teachers.
“There are many rewards to teaching besides the paycheck,” Pennington said.
“[Teaching] is for people [who] want to live in a better world.”
UCO Transfer Specialist Jeffrey Hicks also spoke about the ease of applying to UCO and outlined the transferring process.
“What we want students to know is that our campus offers a 19:1 student to teacher ratio, we have a big international presence, we offer 114 majors, and the transferring process is really simple,” he said.
Pennington said the next Prospective Teachers Academy seminar will be held in the fall.
For information about the Prospective Teachers Academy, contact Karen Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org or Pennington at email@example.com.
Visit www.uco.edu/ceps to find news about certification tests, transfers and degree requirements.
To contact Jaelen Brock, email firstname.lastname@example.org