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TAMU-CC looks to keep early career teachers in profession

Posted at 5:20 PM, Jun 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-10 18:56:31-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Summer is here, but that doesn't mean the nationwide teacher shortage has disappeared.

School districts are doing everything they can to keep up.

We've told you about several Coastal Bend school districts participating in the Exchange Teachers' Visiting International Teacher Program, which helps recruit teachers from Mexico — but educators say that's not enough.

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi wants to keep its recent graduates in the teaching profession — that's the idea behind a beginning teachers institute on campus Friday.

Sessions covered a wide variety of topics, including working with special-education students or English learners. There were even sessions on classroom management, and how to spot trauma in students.

The goal is to keep teachers teaching.

“I believe I have found my niche,” said Kynrda McCarty.

McCarty just finished her second year teaching Pre-K for Beeville ISD.

“It's an eye-opener, seeing what they can do and what they can comprehend at such a young age,” McCarty said.

The 2020 TAMU-CC graduate said teaching has been everything she's expected and more. She said adjusting to the needs of 4- and 5-year-old children was a lot.

“That's where my big struggle was, especially my first year,” McCarty said. “Just seeing how I can help them, how I can work with them.”

McCarty is one of the lucky ones: She made it to her second year. According to the Texas Education Agency, 3,918 first-year teachers left their district after the school year. That comes out to roughly 21 percent -- more than a fifth.

“We know that early-career teachers are at risk for leaving the field,” said TAMU-CC assistant professor of reading Tracy Harper. “We want to make sure that we're reaching out and providing support.”

For Harper, supporting new teachers is why she organized Texas A&M-CC’s Beginning Teaching Institute.

“This is the very first institute we're offering,” she said.

The program brought teachers from 20 districts, all with fewer than four years’ experience, back to the classroom to learn how to better work with their students.

“They are our future,” McCarty said. “What I'm teaching them now brings up as a better student, as a better future adult.”

Friday's institute was only open to Pre-K and elementary school teachers. Harper said she hopes to open it to secondary-education teachers while upping the experience level to five years.

The TEA said 40 percent of the state's teachers quit the profession within five years.

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