Tulsa Public Schools Hopes Teacher Corps Will Help With Staff Shortage

As the fall semester approaches, Tulsa Public Schools needs to fill nearly 200 certified positions.

Tuesday, July 26th 2022, 10:22 pm


As the fall semester approaches, Tulsa Public Schools needs to fill nearly 200 certified positions.

The district hopes its Tulsa Teacher Corps summer training program will help fill those positions.

The Tulsa Teacher Corps program gives its members first-hand experience by teaching summer school.

"We should be helping the community. After all these kids, are going to grow up and they are going to be our future. We will live under what they decide. So why not help them be the best citizens they can be?” said Monica Mendoza.

Before becoming certified teachers, Tulsa Teacher Corps participants must sit in the student seats.

"Rigorous and intense and gives you all the things you need to go into the classroom in the fall,” said Colton Robbins.

Many of them come from other careers.

"I've met somebody who's coming from becoming a lawyer into teaching... it just goes to show that it matters here,” said Robbins.

Robbins said before training to become an 8th grade reading teacher, he worked in Egypt for a nonprofit.

"Teaching is a way to give back and have a purpose. For me, I felt like, my job before I had a purpose and then since COVID happened I was kind of lost. Tulsa Teacher Corps kind of helped me find that purpose,” said Robbins.

Monica Mendoza graduated college in 2020 and studied history and English.

“There's a lot of people from a lot of different backgrounds that can come in and teach that maybe they didn't think about it when they were younger. Cause it's all age ranges, right? I'm 22. There're some people that are 50 and they're getting into this, and I think that's really exciting. Everybody can bring in something different,” said Mendoza.

Tulsa Public Schools has about 190 certified positions open out of about 380 site open based positions total.

The Tulsa Teacher Corps provides certification in elementary, early childhood, and special education and middle and high school certifications are underway, pending state approval.

“The program in Tulsa is super unique. Before I found it, I was actually looking at programs in Kentucky and other places. But the programs in other places you have to pay and do all these things, jump through all of these hoops. But here it's just, if you have your bachelors and you have a passion for students and you're willing to go through the training, you can do it,” said Robbins.

"The summer school is full hands on with students. We're seeing how it is to be in an actual classroom,” said Mendoza. "They can give me the hands-on experience that I won't get if I go back to college. I'm learning a lot here. It's very rigorous. It's kind of sometimes a little draining but it's a good draining. You feel like you've accomplished so much."

The district's program is free and helps train and place educators in TPS for at least two years. It’s an accelerated training program including intensive training, self-guided coursework, and one-on-one coaching.

"I'm doing secondary. I didn't realize how hard it would be,” said Mendoza. "I am currently at Memorial High School teaching 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. […] "It's a lot of kids from a lot of different backgrounds in a lot of different schools."

“It's a lot. It's not just show up and read the curriculum. There's care,” said Robbins. “I think teaching is a balancing act between students and parents and administrators and you.”

Robbins believes what they are learning is crucial for kids’ public education.

“We're learning the things that you would want your kids' teacher to know. We do trainings in diversity, and cultural sensitivity. All the way to best teaching practices of how to deal with troublesome kids and kids that are having a bad day and how you can continue to care for those kids while you're still teaching,” said Robbins. “Kids come into the classroom. They have a whole history. Whatever age they are, they have their experiences and their pains and their hurts. How you as a teacher can take what you get and help them and grow and understand where they're coming from and maybe plant a seed for the future of maybe where they could go?”

Corps members who complete the six-week training program and meet TPS' employment requirements can earn a full teacher's salary and a comprehensive benefits package.

There’s also additional compensation for completing program requirements like a stipend.



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