Teach for America Alabama working to recruit, retain teachers in the classroom

Teach for America Alabama working to recruit, retain teachers in the classroom
Published: Feb. 24, 2023 at 2:44 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Recruiting and retaining teachers in Alabama is becoming more of a challenge, but we must find solutions to keep children learning in the classroom.

Teach for America Alabama focuses heavily on recruiting people who are passionate about bringing up the next generation. It’s not just about a job— it’s about the culture surrounding the classroom and the students.

“The folks that we’re trying to go after are individuals that have experience and demonstrated leadership on their college campuses, but oftentimes have a very distinct passion for wanting to contribute to making the world a better place,” said Damon Bailey, the executive director of Teach for America Alabama.

Bailey says he understands retention is hard, because teaching is hard. Even so, he believes there is a pathway to help teachers create a sustainable career.

Those within the Teach for America program commit to teaching in underserved schools for two years.

“Over 2/3 of our core usually stays in the classroom well beyond their second year, mostly because they know that they’re not finished yet,” said Bailey.

Over the last 13 years, he says the program has grown from 30 people to nearly 600. They offer support in the classroom and access to a therapist, all while creating a community of teachers passionate about doing good work.

While that might help with retention, Bailey adds that other things must be done for recruitment.

Governor Kay Ivey signed an executive order in January to create a commission focused on studying the current teaching workforce. Her office says they will find new and innovative ways to recruit and retain teachers in the state. Those recommendations are expected by December.

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