Kern County residents interested in becoming teachers will be able to get some advice on how to do just that on Wednesday.
The Kern County Superintendent of Schools office is holding a free informational session for prospective teachers. Tania Schalburg-Dykes, coordinator of the office’s Teacher Development Program, will go over the steps to become a credentialed teacher.
Schalburg-Dykes said the session — which KCSOS holds a couple times a year — are needed in part because there is still a shortage of credentialed teachers locally and across the nation.
Representatives from universities such as Cal State Bakersfield, Point Loma Nazarene University and the Bakersfield campus of the University of LaVerne will be available to talk to about their credential programs.
“We’re excited about it,” said Emily Walker, project facilitator for the Teacher Development Program. “We’re trying to make it clear what the pathway is to become a teacher and getting them linked with universities and different resources to help them.”
The teacher shortage began in reaction to the economic recession the country started going through 10 years ago. Around that time, she said, many teachers were being laid off, which is believed to have discouraged some people from pursuing a career in education.
In conjunction with a wave of retirees leaving their districts and increased demand on schools due to population growth, schools began to have difficulty attracting enough qualified candidates to fill vacancies.
To help meet the demand, 813 non-credentialed teachers were hired in Kern County in the 2016-17 school year, according to the latest data available from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, representing more than 9 percent of total teachers. That’s an increase from 614 reported from 2015-16.
“(Attendees) are going to learn about the teacher shortage here,” Walker said. “We’re trying to help people become educated about the shortage and the credential process.”
Schalburg-Dykes said the shortage has begun to ease as the economy has rebounded and more people have started considering a career in teaching.
“The number of candidates is starting to come back to pre-recession numbers. It’s steadily getting to what it used to be,” she said. “People who were passionate about teaching but were unsure about entering the field are now coming back.”
Schalburg-Dykes said whether it’s somebody in the middle of getting their credential or someone just about to begin, the process can be confusing and the sessions can help.
“It’s a labyrinth of information. They’re overwhelmed,” she said. “When they leave this session, they should know what their next step is. We can’t give them all the answers, but we try to help give them clarity.”