Wanted: More top-notch teachers

New Mexico State University’s Southwest Outreach Academic Research Evaluation & Policy Center (SOAR) annual report on faculty vacancies shows that faculty vacancies statewide have declined by more than 30% since 2021.

This is encouraging data after our state saw a surge in vacant teaching positions during the pandemic, but we need to do more. As we move in a positive direction for 2023, we must remain focused on recruiting, developing and supporting quality teachers. We can’t stop until we’ve covered the ground needed to close the gap.

Quality teachers are based on extensive education, training and experience. The Golden Apple Foundation for Excellence in Teaching prepares future educators that reflect the experiences of the students they will eventually serve. We know from over 30 years of experience that teachers who are recruited from the community and return to the community to teach are more likely to stay and better prepare the next generation of students. In fact, 82% of the “scholars” from our teacher preparation program remain in the profession for more than five years, a higher retention rate than any other teacher preparation program.

In 2022, 35 New Mexico students from across the state enrolled in our Scholars program and began their journey to becoming highly qualified educators. They represent a diverse spectrum of rural and urban communities, representing nearly all colleges and two high schools.

Once they become licensed teachers, they plan to go back and teach in their home communities. All of our grantees receive comprehensive training, financial support and mentoring to be highly successful teachers. Perhaps most importantly, by returning to their home communities, these educators bring lived experiences and culturally relevant perspectives to the classroom and to their students.

NMSU’s 2022 report is encouraging and promising, but New Mexico still needs top-notch teachers. To make further progress in these efforts, government agencies, philanthropic organizations, nonprofit organizations, and community resources must work together. The Golden Apple Foundation for Excellence in Teaching is encouraged by how the state has embraced recruiting and training great teachers. To support this progress, we are currently recruiting high school through sophomore college students to become part of the next cohort of Golden Apple Scholars.

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