AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin ISD has come up with a creative way to recruit teachers – train them while they’re still students.
Currently, students at Akins, Bowie, Travis, and Navarro High Schools participate in the Ready, Set, Teach! program. Each student is able to serve as a student-teacher at an elementary school within the district.
In addition to giving high schoolers interested in teaching the skills they need to get off to a head start, the program also allows them to leave with a substitute certificate so that they can keep teaching in college.
Junior Mylo Bissell said his passion for being in the classroom comes from his mentors — his teachers.
“Whenever I think back on a lot of the positive experiences that I’ve had with school and a lot of things that have lead me to my passions, I can kind of bring that back to one teacher,” Bissell said.
Bissell is among the 21 students from Akins High helping at Menchaca Elementary. Students take turns creating curriculum, helping in class, and in turn learning teaching techniques.
“I’ve seen some strong students come through this program that would be an asset to any school, that would hire them,” said Menchaca Pre-K Teacher Mary Tijerina. “They’re ready, they’re prepared, and they have hands-on experience.”
Austin ISD has more than 5,500 teachers, but hired 662 of them this year alone. That represents about one in eight teachers in the district.
However, even with all those positions filled, the district currently has 94 openings.
“Everybody wins,” said Akins Program Advisor Cecilia Gutierrez. “The universities get quality students, AISD gets quality teachers that come back to the classrooms, our AISD students get jobs, our littles get great teachers.”
In June Austin ISD announced a six percent teacher pay hike, which goes up to seven percent for teachers who’ve worked for the district more than five years.
For Bissell, the road he’s set off on now appears to lead back to AISD.
“I would love to be able to come back and work at AISD, to work at my high school, or the elementary school or the middle school I went to,” he said. “I would love to be able to do that.”