Cameron University program aims to fight teacher shortage in OK

Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 6:28 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) - Oklahoma has struggled to keep teachers in the classroom since 2017, and Cameron University is trying a new method to fight the teacher shortage.

Dr. Chris Keller, the director of education preparation at Cameron University, said the university is trying to help get more teachers in classrooms through financial incentives and scholarships.

“When they graduate from college, if they go through a traditional educator preparation program they are given $1,000 a year and then their last year they’re given $2,500 in free scholarships, right, it’s free money,” Keller said. “For every year after they graduate that they teach in Oklahoma, they get an extra $4,000 a year. That’s why it’s called the Inspired to Teach Scholarship. It’s just fantastic and so we’re hopeful that that will draw a lot more people to to the field.”

Keller said the current shortage of teachers being experienced around the nation is due to not only the pay, but how they are treated by others.

“I think our tendency to not treat teachers like they are professionals impacts the people who then go into the field. Then, you know, when fewer and fewer people who don’t think of it as a profession actually take it as a job,” he said. “Then it’s it’s tougher to address a lot of the problems that that teachers have to have to learn how to deal with, and so I think once they get into it and they realize it is a tough job and it requires so much, and with the pay being low, I think it just it drives a lot of people out of the field.”

Mallory Moore, a student teacher and Cameron University senior, said her experiences in the field have been very different than what she’s learned in the classroom.

“Student teaching has been a little eye opening for me,” Moore said. “They teach you a lot at Cameron, what you need to know for yourself, what strategies you need to be able to teach kids, and they teach you the how or the what. But when you come into an actual classroom and try to put it into practice, it’s nothing like what you expect. And it’s just been challenging and eye-opening for me.”

But both Keller and Moore said they hope more teachers enter the field, as the need is greater than ever.

“It’s hard and it’s challenging, but the the need and the necessity for people who truly care about education and truly care about our community and want to help -- it can’t be understated how important that is. I think teachers among other professions in our society are a cornerstone of what make us what we are,” said Keller.

Moore encouraged potential teachers not to give up on their passion.

“It is hard but there are a lot of benefits to working with students, to helping them grow and succeed,” Moore said. “People in teaching are passionate about teaching and it rubs off on you, so stick with it.”