ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Many high schools have “Signing Days” for their athletes who commit to compete at the next level.
One stateline high school held a signing event on Tuesday for students who are pursuing teaching careers.
Twelve Harlem High School seniors signed their letters of intent as they embark on their own journey into education.
They have the support of their teachers at Harlem.
“Some of these kids I’ve known, honestly, since they were elementary age, and to see them grow and become something that they want to be and change the world is just a blessing to me, and I’m thankful to be part of their journey,” said Staci Hubley-Taylor, family consumer science and Education Pathway teacher at Harlem.
Tuesday’s event was Harlem’s first ever “Teacher Signing Event.” Students in the Education Pathway Program take human development and early education classes, working with an onsite preschool where they teacher three days a week.
Seniors are able to go off-campus to intern at an elementary school.
“They will absolutely be ahead of their peers in college,” Hubley-Taylor said. “They have this experience working with kids, learning the book materials, as well as in-person hands on working with kids. I hope next year we can double it, triple it, you know, whatever we can do.”
The students in the program also learn valuable skills, like lesson planning, discipline and guidance.
“I feel like I’ve done a little part, but to know that maybe they’ll think back and remember me as a way that, you know, I’ve reached them, that they will do the same for students in the future,” Hubley-Taylor said. “Teaching is so much about building a relationship with your students that I hope that they’ll do that for kids in the future.”
Many of the students will be attending school close to home at Rock Valley College and Northern Illinois University.
Harlem staff said that they would be happy to welcome them back as teachers.
“We absolutely have a teacher shortage all across the country, and, so knowing that some of these kids will come back to our own district is amazing,” Hubley-Taylor said. “I like to say that we’re growing our own with hopes will come back. Like Dr. Yarbrough said, ‘once a husky, always a husky,’ so come back to us and teach and make a difference in our community.”
Harlem’s Education Pathway Program will continue to grow next year with more classes, including a dual credit “Introduction to Education” with Rock Valley College.