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OPINION - The Teacher Shortage

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OPINION - The Teacher Shortage

By Steven D. Herrington, Ph.D., Sonoma County Superintendent of Schools 

Over the past year and a half, I have tried to keep the public informed about our local efforts to address the statewide teacher shortage. The start of a new school year marks a good time to update you on our progress.

As County Superintendent of Schools, I see it as my responsibility to recruit and secure the highest quality educational talent pool for Sonoma County school districts. To this end, in early 2016, Sonoma County Office of Education opened the North Coast School of Education. By the time its fully implemented in 2018, this school of education—located at SCOE will offer the following fully accredited programs: teacher intern programs that provide teaching candidates an alternative path to the classroom; teacher induction programs to support and coach first-time teachers; an administrative credential program; and designated subject programs including career technical education, adult education and special subjects credentials. Many of these programs are already under way and approved by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

 We are particularly excited to offer the “Be a Teacher” intern program. This program enrolled its first teacher candidates in the field of Special Education (in partnership with TCOE) in early 2016 and nearly all of them —about 25 — are now working as paid teacher interns in our local classrooms all around Sonoma County. Once approved, additional cohorts will begin this year. Community First Credit Union has been of great help by offering a special, low interest loan to help teacher interns pay tuition.

The North Coast School of Education seeks to create teacher candidates who can foster 21st century skills in their students. These include and go beyond the basic competencies, or skills, we expect schools to teach, like language arts, social studies, mathematics, and science. They include skills like creative and critical artistic expression, innovation and collaborative problem solving; communication skills centered around language, digital media and social networking; and cultural skills including cross-cultural understanding, personal responsibility and the ability to work in diverse teams.

I am proud of our efforts to create a modern and capable teacher workforce. To learn more, visit ncsoe.org.