About 25 local people attended the "Becoming a Teacher" meeting Monday evening at North Clay Middle School. Indiana University and Clay Community Schools hosted the event, which allowed individuals who may be interested in teaching in the future to acquire information on how to achieve that goal.
In lieu of the fact that many Indiana educators began their careers in the early 1970s and are nearing retirement, there will be a shortage of teachers in many vital subject areas. Among these, according to Kathy Knust, curriculum coordinator for Clay Community Schools, are math; foreign languages, particularly German, French and Spanish; some areas of science such as physics, earth space science, chemistry and biology; and special education.
"Many people wondered why we were even doing this," says Knust, considering the corporation's current financial situation. Clay Community Schools is expected to be about $500,000 in debt by the beginning of 2005. However, she noted that she and Superintendent William Schad "did make participants aware" of the budget problems and that they may need to be "willing to relocate" if they do decide they want to enter the field.
Because of the corporation's financial concerns, staff reductions are practically inevitable in Clay County in the near future. Still, Knust feels that many of the retirees will have to be replaced because they teach subjects that the schools "can't just cut." As a matter of fact, Clay Community Schools is presently in the process of replacing a biology teacher.
Those attending the meeting were mostly Clay County residents, but there were a few people from Parke County present. Many of them, Knust says, have bachelor's degrees in something other than education, and a few have master's degrees. She adds that they are currently employed in other fields, but several are hoping to make a "mid-life career change."
IU representatives, who had contacted Clay Community Schools to set up the assembly, provided the potential candidates with a number of options to maintain degrees in education. They offered advice in obtaining the necessary credits on a either full-time or part-time basis.
Some participants questioned Knust and Schad on how to determine whether or not they do indeed want to become a teacher. Knust explains that substitute teaching would be a "great way to get your foot in the door" or to "discover your passion."
Overall, Knust "thought the meeting went very well." She says the participants were a "nice group of people" that "asked good questions and seemed very interested."