Addressing the K-12 Teacher Shortage in Pennsylvania

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DelVal's Chair of Education Dr. David Timony weighs in on the K-12 teacher shortage.

Dr. David Timony, chair of the undergraduate secondary education program at Delaware Valley University, has noticed the impact of the K-12 teacher shortage in Pennsylvania. As someone who prepares future teachers, he has been keeping a close eye on the issue.

"I see it in Bucks County and Montgomery County, but I live in Philadelphia," said Dr. Timony. "In Philadelphia, I hear about how teachers are losing their prep time for classes."

There is also a shortage of substitutes which is putting additional pressure on teachers. The problem is also impacting students.

"Often the shortages are in areas and subjects with the highest need for qualified teachers," said Dr. Timony.

For those who are interested in getting into teaching, Dr. Timony said there are different options.

"The best way is to get into a high-quality teacher education program where you get experience in a variety of settings," said Dr. Timony. "At DelVal, education students spend over 1,000 hours in the classroom. That allows them to visit schools and get a taste for the type of school they might want to work in."

Dr. Timony said building relationships with teacher preparation programs can help schools attract new teachers.

"Our education students are fantastic," said Dr. Timony. "They have a lot of the skills that would make them assets to their districts. My advice to schools is to open the doors to student teaching so that they're on the list when students think about where they want to teach. Our agriculture education majors often walk across the stage with two or three job offers in hand. We have students who are currently student teaching who are getting job offers right now."

Some of the Philadelphia schools where DelVal undergraduates are working include W.B. Saul, Northeast High School, and Central High School.

"We're working consistently to develop relationships with Philadelphia schools," said Dr. Timony. "I have students coming into the program who want to teach in Philadelphia specifically."

As a possible solution to get more teachers into classrooms, Dr. Timony suggests allowing those with expired Instructional certificates to become active again or, to invite those with expired intern certificates an opportunity to complete their teacher certifications.

"I think we could activate interested and capable people who want to be teachers," said Dr. Timony. "In Pennsylvania, much of this happens through legislation, but there are ways that the freedoms within the current legislation could allow more folks to enter the classroom."

Dr. Timony is happy to be a small part of helping to address the shortage by preparing future teachers.

"At DelVal, we have a very forward-facing program," said Dr. Timony. "Our students contribute to the vitality of districts. They spend a lot of time on the ground in districts and classrooms. The relationships they build make a difference even before they graduate."