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Missouri launches online recruitment tool to address teacher shortage; SPS leaders discuss

Published: Nov. 10, 2021 at 9:27 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education launched a new online portal this week to help boost recruitment and hire more teachers across the state.

DESE hopes the new platform will help inspire the next generation of teachers. The effort is a collaboration between DESE and TEACH, a national nonprofit organization. The tool is one of many recruitments and retention initiatives Missouri is investing in over the next three years.

Springfield Public Schools leaders say the platform will come with several benefits.

”It’s a nice one-stop-shop for anyone who is interested in going into the field,” SPS Deputy Superintendent of Operations John Mulford said.

The website will act as a centralized hub for prospective teachers to explore the profession. Job seekers can also access free resources and support to apply for teaching jobs and training programs.

”They can access a website, they can chat with someone on the other end that can guide them,” Mulford described. “If it’s someone who already has a degree, but is considering transitioning to education, it guides them through that process.”

Mulford said there is a national teacher shortage. He said it has been an issue in the past, but one worsened by the pandemic.

”People are either deciding to stay home or pursuing more flexible careers,” he said. “And of course teaching is not a high-paying career, so competing with other higher-paying jobs is proving more and more to be a challenge.”

Mulford said the job is often a calling.

”While there may be other challenges that come with the career, the rewards are high,” he said. “Anyone who has that passion for serving others, serving their community, serving kids, helping grow kids and turn them into productive citizens, this might be a pathway for you and we’d love to talk to you about that.

Mulford said recruitment efforts and tools like TeachMo.org are a good start, but not the final solution.

”In the end, if we’re going to get more people to go into the field of education, we’re going to have to put more money behind education in our state in our local communities,” he said. “Although I believe our state legislators do what they can with the funds they have, we’re still one of the lowest. So we’re just going to have to invest in our educators and in our educational systems at a higher level.”

He also said it will take a deeper look at the career path itself.

”We got to get at the heart of why people are not choosing to teach,” Mulford said.

Missouri is investing $50 million over the next three years in various recruitment efforts like TeachMo.org, all to grow the teaching workforce.

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