Born and raised in Greeley in northeast Colorado, Brittni Laura Hernandez has always dreamed of teaching in her home community.
When she came to CU Boulder as an undergraduate in 2008, Hernandez became increasingly connected with her identity and upbringing. She realized teaching was a way she could address issues of injustice.
“I always knew I wanted to be in education,” she said. “My mentors said, ‘You’re brown, you’re smart, and you want to help your people? Then go into education.’”
Research shows that when educators like Hernandez teach in their home communities, they are more likely to stay in the profession and connect with students. That’s important since Colorado and many other states face teacher shortages, partly because of difficulty recruiting and retaining educators.
Areas in STEM, special education, world languages and culturally responsive teaching are often more likely to be understaffed. In 2017, the Colorado Department of Education reported an estimated 3,000-teacher shortfall predominantly in rural areas.
Many rural schools are implementing innovative programing through online or blended learning opportunities, but you can’t replace or overstate the importance of having a teacher in the classroom to connect with and guide the students locally.” –Michelle Murphy at the Colorado Rural School Alliance
As a result, the School of Education is attracting new teachers and supporting current teachers as professionals by partnering with schools and organizations dedicated to the same goals.
The School of Education is joining with partners like the Rural School Alliance, other colleges and schools of education, the Colorado departments of Education and Higher Education, and the Board of Cooperative Educational Services to address teacher shortages.
“Grow your own” programs are becoming increasingly popular as a way to recruit teachers. The programs introduce students as young as middle school to the education field and offer concurrent enrollment courses.