FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
At Kamehameha Schools, training sessions were held last month for local teachers to teach the Teacher Cadet Program in their schools. Lisa Man and Stephanie Nishihama, from Farrington High School; Grace Kwon, from Alpha Delta Kappa; and Kristie Malterre, from Kapiolani Community College, attended.
Teacher mentor project set
Farrington High School teacher Lisa Man wants to interest students early in teaching in Hawaii.
She hopes a new Teacher Cadet Program will help solve the teacher shortage.
"It was the best thing to come along," said Man.
Farrington and five other schools will participate in the program starting in the 2004-2005 school year. Other schools are Kamehameha Schools; Kaimuki, Campbell and Kapolei high schools; and Kahuku Intermediate and High School.
The program was initiated by members of the Hawaii Alliance for Future Teachers to address the teacher shortage in the state. It is modeled after a program in South Carolina that has a nearly 20-year successful record of educating high school students in teaching, monitoring them in college and obtaining jobs for students in the school system.
The organization is also urging local colleges to enroll students in their teaching programs and help fill teacher vacancies with Hawaii Teacher Cadet Program graduates.
There are no new firm figures on the teacher shortage, but the organization is trying to get more Hawaii students interested in teaching locally. Hawaii college graduates filled 41 percent of the public school vacancies in the 2002-2003 school year compared with 57 percent taken by students from out-of-state colleges.
But Greg Knudsen, spokesman for the Department of Education, noted that many Hawaii residents from out-of-state colleges had filled teacher vacancies. (The remaining 2 percent of jobs are filled by teachers who were hired with no degrees.)
The Department of Education hired 1,657 new teachers for the 2003-2004 school year, up 21 percent from 1,363 for 2002-2003.
Roughly 1,500 are needed for the 2004-2005 school year, and Knudsen said that recruitment is on track. Two-thirds of new teachers have already been hired, and candidates have been identified for many of the remaining slots, he said.
A group of teachers recently completed a three-day training session for the cadet program at Kamehameha Schools.
"To me, this is the one thing that gets to the schools and to the students to make a difference," said Roy Winstead, dean of the school of education at Brigham Young University-Hawaii, who attended the training session to help plan a partnership with Kahuku High School.
"The remote areas are struggling to get teachers," said Winstead, noting that some of the teachers recruited from the mainland do not make it past the first year. "I think if you are going to put your money anywhere, you should put it in people here."
The program is slated to be a year-long elective course aimed at seniors. Students will have mentors to help them with college applications and financial planning.
It is for students who are really interested in exploring education as a career option, said Linda Shimamoto, president of the Hawaii Alliance for Future Teachers. "We want to see them hired within our education system."
During Man's college years, she said she did not receive guidance or support while she worked toward a dual certificate in special education and education.
"This program will hold these kids' hands and put them in these programs. It saves them the frustration I had to go through," said Man.