More students wanting to pursue teaching careers at local universities

Published: Sep. 14, 2020 at 6:02 PM EDT
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ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. (WNDU) - At 11 o’clock on a Monday morning, college senior Tyler Nevison is months closer to living her dream as a teacher.

“I loved everything about just finding someone who was younger than me and helping them along their journey and especially as I got older realizing there are so many young kids out there who need a little bit more assistance,” said Nevison, a student at Bethel University.

Students with the same passion as Nevison are helping to keep enrollment steady in the teacher education department at Bethel.

“Actually, as we’re looking now to ahead to enrollment for next fall already, we have actually had more students inquiring about education, too, so I don’t know if that had anything to do with the pandemic. Maybe seeing educators and the worth perhaps that they’re playing in this situation,” said Dr. Jim Bennett, Chair of the Education Department.

Dean of IU South Bend’s School of Education Dr. Hope Smith Davis has a similar hypothesis.

“I think with the racial inequality that’s been highlighted lately, with the pandemic, schools have kept going. Schools are still running. And folks who are called to be of service feel this is a viable and necessary avenue,” said Smith Davis.

The IU South Bend School of Education is seeing an uptick in enrollment of future teachers.

“For the first time since 2011, we’ve actually had more undergraduate students enrolled in teacher education than we had in the previous semester. We’ve also seen strong growth in our graduate level programs,” Smith Davis explained.

For the last decade - at least- Indiana has battled a teacher shortage. Some in the field point to reasons such as the reformed teacher evaluation standards, which can affect salaries and other opportunities. But aspiring educators at Bethel and IU South Bend are undeterred.

“Going into teaching, you’re not going into it for the money. You’re going into it for the love of the kids and a hope that you can make a difference,” said Allena Peacock, freshman at IU South Bend.

IU South Bend sophomore Desiree Shepherd hopes to inspire her students to leverage their creativity.

“When I start feeling down about all these things that everyone talks about, like, ‘Oh, you’re not going to get paid, or you’re going to be spending so much time doing work you’re not getting paid for,’ I think about my goal in wanting to get children to enjoy school,” she said.

Classmate Kaitlyn Dow wants to pay forward what her teachers did for her - and more.

“I want to make them excited to learn, happy to come to school, but I also want my classroom to be a safe space for them and a place that they know that they can come if they need to talk or if they need help with anything and know that I’ll be there for them,” said Dow.

Goshen College is reporting a slight increase in terms of students interested in pursuing secondary education majors.

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