One solution to Oklahoma's teacher shortage - KTEN.com - Texoma news, weather and sports

One solution to Oklahoma's teacher shortage

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Chrissy Shepard used an alternate path to became a Calera teacher. (KTEN) Chrissy Shepard used an alternate path to became a Calera teacher. (KTEN)

CALERA, Okla. -- Oklahoma's teacher shortage continues, but schools across southern Oklahoma are finding ways to remain fully staffed.

There are multiple ways to become a certified teacher in the State of Oklahoma without having an education degree. One of those paths is to obtain an alternative certification.

Chrissy Shepard graduated from college with a degree in journalism.

"I worked for a newspaper, a small publication for a little over a year," she said. "I realized that it just wasn't the best fit for me and my family."

Now Shepard is showing fifth and sixth graders at Calera Public Schools hot to write after being certified to teach elementary education.

"I was able to get experience anywhere from 2nd to 6th grade classrooms, and that helped me see different teachers -- how they run their classrooms, their lesson plans -- I was even able to teach some lessons like substitute teach for them," she said.

Oklahoma's teacher shortage continues to be a challenge for districts across the state.

"Fourteen years ago, we could go look in a file and have 200 applications just for elementary teaching," Durant Independent School District Superintendent Duane Merideth said. "Today you go look in that file and you might find 35."

So southern Oklahoma schools must get creative to keep classrooms fully staffed. The alternative certification program, which takes about a year to complete, is one option.

"Within that year, I was able to gain that experience plus take the certification tests I needed to be hireable," Shepard said. "And I was hireable by that next school year."

The program lets schools hire professionals to teach subjects they already specialize in. 

"I think I gained more experience in that year, as much or more than what I would have going back to school and student-teaching," Shepard said.

"We put her in an area that is definitely her strength, and she's doing a great job for us," said Calera Elementary School Principal Steve Evans.

The Durant ISD has about five teachers with an alternative certification; Ardmore City Schools has around 20.

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