This fall, the Calcasieu Parish School Board and McNeese State University are partnering on a new pilot program aimed at fixing the nationwide shortage of teachers in the classroom.
EdRising is an elective course offered to high school students on what it’s like to be an educator. Students parishwide will travel to either A.M. Barbe or Sulphur High School to take the class. Those who pass the course and the national standardized EdRising assessment can earn up to six education credits from McNeese.
“Teachers do a great job of promoting professions in engineering, skilled trades, law, medicine — every field but our own,” said Lori Benoit, EdRising teacher at Barbe. “It’s time for us to start, and EdRising is a great way to do it.”
The School Board will pay the students’ credit costs. However, unlike traditional dual-enrollment courses, EdRising is open to all students interested in being a teacher, regardless of their ACT score or grade point average.
“You don’t have any of those barriers with this,” Tammy Hebert, CPSB director of high school curriculum, said. “Just find the student with the light. Who has the light for teaching? Look for them. Bring them in the classroom.”
Katie Williams, assistant professor at McNeese, said there is a need for “strong teachers that really have a human connection.”
“We find that the most important qualities of good teachers are their characteristics and their professional dispositions,” she said.
EdRising students will study professional teaching methods, content skills and classroom management techniques. They will also take part in classroom observations at other schools, along with some parent/teacher conferences and faculty meetings.
“Ultimately, we hope they see the value in what they get in this course in high school, want to pursue that and return back to their communities and have that strong impact with students,” Williams said.
Another goal of the program is for students to respect teachers more, Andi McFarlain, Sulphur high EdRising teacher, said.
“Too many students think what I think is a noble profession is just a backup plan or something to stay away from,” McFarlain said. “We need to change that way of thinking.”
Benoit said EdRising may be the answer to one of the biggest challenges in education.
“We want to be a part of the solution,” she said. “We have a pool of students sitting right there to be good teachers. It’s just that no one’s asked them or shown them how.”