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.
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.
- For the 2022-23 school year, nearly 95% of Shawnee Mission teachers are white, though just 61% of students in the district identify as white, according to board documents.
- District data show about 20% of students are Hispanic or Latino and 9% are Black, percentages that have been rising steadily in recent years.
- The lack of diversity among teachers educating an increasingly heterogenous student body has beena longtime issue in Shawnee Mission — with parents and community members voicing concerns in the past.
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.”