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Shawnee Mission program with K-State aims to create teacher ‘pathway’ for its own graduates

Shawnee Mission teacher recruitment efforts could get boost with new K-State partnership.

Amid persistent staffing shortages, the Shawnee Mission School District is partnering with Kansas State University to set Shawnee Mission graduates on a pathway to more easily obtain an education degree

Amid persistent staffing shortages, the Shawnee Mission School District is partnering with Kansas State University to set Shawnee Mission graduates on a pathway to more easily obtain an education degree and return to their home district to teach.

Driving the news: Jeremy Higgins, the district’s director of secondary human resources, laid out the evolving plan — dubbed the K-State Johnson County Residency Pathway — in a presentation to the school board earlier this month.

  • The program would allow Shawnee Mission high school graduates to start their higher education careers at Johnson County Community College with a focus on education, Higgins said.
  • Those students would then be enrolled at K-State and take classes online to earn a bachelor’s of science.
  • The residency pathway would end with a year-long student teaching experience in Shawnee Mission, Higgins said.

Key quote: “This residency pathway is still being finalized with Johnson County and K-State, but we’re definitely excited about the potential it has for students and for our graduates,” Higgins told the board of education last week.

Shawnee Mission teacher recruitment efforts continue with new K-State partnership.
The efforts to diversify staff coincide with the student population’s growing diversity. Photo credit Juliana Garcia

Bigger picture: This potential residency pathway is one of several recruitment efforts Shawnee Mission’s human resources department is engaged in to grow its teacher pool — and the diversity of those teachers — as it is faced with ongoing staffing challenges that have grown more acute during the COVID-19 pandemic.

More teacher recruitment efforts

The potential residency pathway is one of several recruitment efforts Shawnee Mission is engaged in.

  • There are 150 students enrolled in the teacher education program currently, Higgins said.
  • District administrators and teachers in the program plan to host a college education fair in January at the district’s Center for Academic Achievement for students in the program.
  • Student teachers are another key recruitment avenue for the district, according to a presentation included in board documents.
  • Additionally, the district works to recruit from colleges and universities in 10 different states.
  • Higgins said there are also recruitment efforts specifically geared toward historically Black colleges and universities as well as Hispanic-focused higher education institutions.

What they’re saying: “You will continue to see a more coordinated effort to recruit those already within the Shawnee Mission School District community into various positions in our organization,” Higgins said. “A great opportunity to hire a more diverse workforce comes from our own efforts to grow our own pool of employees.”