MURFEESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) – The need for more teachers is something that school districts across the country are facing.
When Rebecca Murphy decided to teach over a decade ago, she started with high school students, but now she’s traded students for teachers.
“We start the summers before the school year even starts,” she said. “They walk through the door with a very thorough and well-thought-out plan, and they’re ready to go as soon as their students are in front of them.”
In 2018, Rutherford County Schools approached Murphy to create a program designed to help those interested in teaching.
The program officially launched in 2019 as Rutherford County School’s Educator Readiness Provider Program. The district says it has become the first in Tennessee to operate a program like this that has been approved by the Tennessee Department of Education.
The program has since been renamed Teach Now and is designed to help those who want to teach get into the classroom, while offering district-based courses to earn their license.
“So instead of welcoming a teacher with keys and a textbook and saying, ‘There you go, enjoy it,’ we’re really taking them step by step through what it takes to start the year,” said said Murphy. “We call this the ‘just in time’ approach to our curriculum. »
Ray Patrick spent more than 35 years working for an automotive seed company before retiring to become a full-time minister.
However, he wanted to give back to young people, so he signed up to teach construction classes for the district.
“It kind of opened my eyes when I walked into the classroom and realized there was more to it and I needed something,” he said. “It gives me what I need.”
Patrick not only enjoys being in class, but also bonding and mentoring students.
“I feel like I’ve formed great relationships with some of these students, and that’s huge for me,” he said. “I’m a people person, so it’s huge for me to have these relationships.”
This program is approved to work with those seeking a bachelor’s degree in math and science courses, and vocational and technical courses.
Fifty people have already graduated since the program’s inception, but Murphy knows something like this is helpful in recruiting and retaining teachers for the district.
“Now if I can help prepare teachers who all work with 100 or 150 students a day, the reach and benefit of outcomes for our students is that much greater,” she said.
If a candidate without a teaching license wants to apply for a vacant position, has industry experience in that field, or has a bachelor’s degree but does not have a teaching license, they can still apply for the position.
If offered the position, they can then enter the Teach Now program to begin teaching immediately while earning their license.
The RCS Teach Now program is approved to work with candidates who need a teaching license for math and science courses covering grades 6-12 and any career and technical course.
The district will host two open houses to attract and register applicants for the upcoming school year.
The first will be on June 30 at Rock Springs Middle School in Smyrna, and the second on July 11 at Rutherford County School’s central office in Murfreesboro. The two open days will begin at 5:30 p.m.