Wilson Talent Center launches educational career program to combat teacher shortage

Published: May. 12, 2023 at 3:55 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - A new program is hoping to inspire high school students to become educators.

The program couldn’t have come at a better time as schools across Michigan are in desperate need for staff.

Gina Rios has a passion for teaching. She was an elementary school teacher for 18 years and spent some of that time working through a shortage.

“The shortage has been coming for a really long time,” Rios recalled. “Even before the pandemic, we were seeing the signs that it was there.”

She knew something had to be done and now, instead of teaching elementary school students, she’s going to be teaching high school students.

Rios is instructing a new educational careers program at the Wilson Talent Center and is hoping to inspire students to become the next generation of great teachers.

“We hoping to give them all the instruction they need but also that practical relevant experience to really know what they’re getting into,” Rios said.

Schools within the Ingham Intermediate School District have about 200 open positions for educators. Superintendent Jason Mellema said schools are leaning on long-term substitutes to help fill current openings.

“We know those staff members - they come in, they do the best they can to work with the students, but they’re not necessarily trained as content experts,” Mellema said.

Hayden Masssey, a student at Holt High School, is hoping to become a teacher sometime soon.

“I’ve just never seen myself doing anything else,” Massey said. “I think that we just need more people to go in and help out because we are the future.”

Filling educator positions will take time and Rios is hoping the new program will be a driving force.

“There’s a lot of challenges with teaching and so I think that’s what a lot of people look to,” Rios said. “But there are also so many rewards with teaching.”

The new educational careers program is set to start in the fall. It’s a two-year program where students will not only earn college credit, but state and national credentials. While the upcoming class is full, students can still apply for the wait list in case something opens up.

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