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Bloomington HS Aims To 'Grow Their Own' To Address Teacher Shortage

Bloomington High School teacher signing day
Eric Stock
Bloomington High School students declare their college plans at a ceremony at the school auditorium on May 2.

Bloomington High School is looking to address the national teacher shortage by helping to groom new educators before they head off to college.
BHS is partnering with Illinois State University's College of Education to launch a teacher cadet program. It connects aspiring teachers with university faculty to better prepare them for a career in the classroom.

“We have asked our staff to continue to identify those students and to continue to encourage and support them,” Bloomington High School Principal Tim Moore said. “We see this program getting better and bigger so that we have younger kids that have been involved this year also will hopefully benefit even more down the road.”

Credit Eric Stock / WGLT
Bloomington High School provided cookies for students and their families on its teacher signing day event on May 2.

BHS also held a teacher signing day event where those who have declared their intentions to become teachers were honored at the school.

Jay Percell with ISU's School of Teaching and Learning said these aspiring teachers should be celebrated.

“This was one of the big kickoff moments and a personal dream of mine that’s realized to have a teacher signing day and just bring a little prestige to the profession that’s visible in a way that usually isn’t,” Percell said.

Bloomington High School has 12 graduates this spring who plan to go into education.

Carlie Young is pursuing early childhood education at ISU. She said the most important advice she’s received from educators is the need to learn different teaching styles for students who learn differently.

“I got advised to love, unconditionally love and learn how to love each child differently and work with everything around them and use everything to just take care of them and teach them in their own individual way,” Young said.

Kenzie Jones plans to go into elementary education at Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo. At a time when more educators are leaving the profession, in part because of low pay and increasing demands, Jones said she is looking part those obstacles and focusing on the difference she believes she can make in the classroom. 

“I don’t think that you really need all the much resources even at schools that might not have that much of them,” Jones said. “I think that you really just need students who want to learn and in turn they will learn. As a teacher, it’s your job to teach them, teach students who want to learn.”

Ben Wright has signed to attend Eureka College, where he plans to prepare to become a special education teacher. He said he knows that’s a position many schools are struggling to fill.

“I see all these special ed kids at this school and I know that when I help them out, there’s nothing but happiness and joy whenever I am around them,” Wright said. “I’ve enjoyed every single moment of it. I can tell they’ve taken a part of my heart. I know I want to give back.”

Moore said BHS has struggled most to fill its specialty positions, including school psychologist and physics and chemistry teachers.

Normal Community, Normal West and University High are all planning similar teacher signing days this month.

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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.