Hillsborough schools recruiting college students to combat ongoing teacher shortage

WFLA | By Brittany Muller | December 16, 2021

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida is dealing with a shortage of teachers. In Hillsborough County alone, there are 435 teacher openings.

To address this problem, education students at the University of South Florida are interning inside Hillsborough County Public School classrooms, working side-by-side with teachers. The district said the majority of the interns will then secure a job before graduating.

Earlier this month, 21 undergraduates in USF’s Helios STEM Middle School Residency Program celebrated as they accepted early job offers from HCPS.

“I want to teach middle grades math because I feel like it’s such an age where there’s a lot of transitions going on,” said Hannah Manley, a USF teaching student.

Manley is one of about 20 USF teaching students who are interning with the Hillsborough County school system. Right now, she is co-teaching sixth grade math at Barrington Middle School.

“Overall this program is highly focused on field experience and I think that is truly what makes a stand out from other programs,” said Manley.

Manley is on track to secure a job – even before graduating in May 2022. The program is funded by the Helios stem education foundation – allowing students to get hands on experience in the classroom. It launched in fall 2013 and prepares student to teach mathematics in middle-school settings using science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects.

“The ones that intern in Hillsborogh County about 80% of them become teachers in our district,” said Christie Gold, the district’s recruiting specialist.

The need for teachers is growing, especially since the pandemic hit. The system needs 435 teachers.

“It’s important that we have strong partnerships with our local universities because we really have to work with them to make sure that the students are prepared to come into our classrooms and we’re working hand-in-hand as the students are in our classrooms then transitioning into positions of employment,” said Gold.

In addition to USF, Hillsborough Schools also works with University of Tampa and Saint Leo University for recruitment.

“I’m just so thankful and truly blessed for the opportunity that Hillsborough County has given me,” said Manley.

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