ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — School districts across Illinois are still suffering from a teacher shortage.
“Kids aren’t going into the teaching field like they used to,” said Bog Sondgeroth, Regional Superintendent for Schools in Ogle and Lee Counties.
Sondgeroth says that 15 years ago, there were 250 applicants for one teaching position. Now, he’s lucky to get 25.
And, it’s worse in rural districts.
“Our small, rural districts maybe get two or three applicants for an elementary position that used [to get] 30-40, even in the small, rural districts,” he said.
That’s why Golden Apple President Alan Mather helped create a program to recruit teachers.
“What we’re hearing from the superintendents is: we need a solution, now,” Mather said. “We have shortages now that we can’t fill.”
The Golden Apple Accelerators of Illinois will put college seniors, or anyone with a bachelor’s degree who wants to teach, in a one year residency program, while receiving a $30,000 stipend.
“It’ll help with the teaching shortage, and then it will get a more diverse group of individuals into the teaching profession, which are role models, then. The better role models you have as teachers, the more teachers you’re going to have, and it will perpetuate to help solving our crisis,” Sondgeroth said.
Those in the program must commit to working in their residency district for four years.
The idea is that the teacher will create roots in that school district.
“We want to identify people who live in those communities, or in similar communities,” Mather said.
Sondgeroth says teaching is rewarding, and shared a story of how he became an important person in the life of one of his students lives.
“In middle school, she had to have brain surgery. She had to have a shunt put in,” Sondgeroth said. “And, when her mom went in and asked her if there was anybody else she wanted when she came out of recovery, her parents were all there, she said, ‘I want Mr. Sondgeroth.'”
This year, the Accelerator program will only accept 50 candidates, but hopes to double number by next year.
The deadline to apply is February 17th.
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