Teacher Ed Program Producing Home-Grown Talent
Our community, state, and country have never needed great people to be great teachers more than we do now, and Mid-South Community College is doing its part to send top talent to local classrooms.
What we’ve been able to do over the last few years, with a lot of help, is create a situation where an aspiring educator can complete everything that is required to become a great teacher right here at Mid-South Community College. Through our University Center, we have helped more than 60 people earn a bachelor’s degree in education, and most, if not all of them, are employed in our communities today in jobs that they might never have had access to without the program.
A student can come here straight out of high school, or even start taking basic requirements while still in high school, take everything that is required, and then enroll in a four-year program through our ongoing collaboration with Arkansas State University. And returning learners have the opportunity to pursue lifelong dreams through the program. We have folks, 30 years of age and older, married with children who have returned to school because of the opportunity that has been afforded them. What we have done is let these students know that their dreams are certainly within reach and that they can do it all right here in Crittenden County.
Arkansas State and the University of Central Arkansas have partnered with us to provide these great career opportunities in the classroom, and the effort is truly paying off for our area schools. Many of the program graduates have landed jobs in local school districts and are making a difference for our young people. Lori Forrester, who coordinates our teacher ed program, says we have graduates at almost every elementary and junior high school in West Memphis and Marion and that we probably have at least two teachers in most of those schools. At L.R. Jackson Elementary, we even have three.
By giving our students the opportunity to complete their degrees in West Memphis, we dramatically increase the likelihood that more of them will stay in the region to work in our schools, and that’s extremely crucial to the future of Eastern Arkansas.
The most important part of any community’s future is the quality of the schools, and there is absolutely nothing that has more potential to create a great community than having a great education system. And there is nothing more important to a great school than great teachers. You can have great buildings, great programs, and great opportunities, but you will never have a great learning environment if you don’t have great teachers. And if we’re going to have great teachers in Crittenden County, we believe the best way to make that happen is to continue to grow them here at home.
While some people in other parts of the state don’t understand the great potential here – and that’s their problem not ours – our citizens are keenly aware of the rewards and challenges of eastern Arkansas. So it’s especially important for us to train teachers from here who want to stay here. The value they bring to the local classrooms can’t even begin to be adequately measured. Home-grown teachers, in some instances, have even faced similar challenges to many of their students, so that experience allows them to be an even greater classroom asset.
A part of why Mid-South Community College is here is to help grow our community and our economy to improve the quality of life in Eastern Arkansas. We need to continue to do all we can to keep our best and brightest in Crittenden County, and the teacher education program is an invaluable effort toward that end.