The Alabama School District now pays student teachers to keep staff in classrooms

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The teacher shortage is affecting almost every school district in the country, and West Alabama is no exception.

The Tuscaloosa City School District is trying a new way to get and keep teachers in their classrooms: paying student teachers.

“Our board has approved a pilot program so that we can add up to 10 interns in the spring semester,” said Superintendent Mike Daria. “The concept is to complement that during their stay with the idea that they stay full-time afterwards.”

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Upon acceptance into the program, student teachers who agree to begin their teaching career in Talladega City County upon graduation will receive $1,200 per month during their internship.

“Right now they’re not getting anything, and $1,200 is a lot more than they got,” Daria said. “That’s kind of what we want to measure. Is this supplement appropriate? Should it be more? We don’t currently know of many places that do this, so it’s a pilot for us to see how we do it. Well? I hope our profession sees this differently in the future, and I certainly think city schools see it differently.”

Daria said he is excited about the program and hopes it will help bring more engaged teachers back into the Tuscaloosa classrooms.

(READ MORE: Teacher Shortages Are Real, But Not For The Reasons You’ve Heard)

“We take a different approach to recruiting the best and brightest for our students,” said Daria. “Our students deserve the best teachers. We as a profession need to evaluate how we are structured. We need to evaluate what we do and the working conditions for teachers. It’s the noblest job there is, but it’s extremely complex. It’s difficult, and we have these great teachers doing great work, but they carry a great burden from their students. You have a responsibility to make our students academically competent. There’s a lot. We have to examine what we are doing in our profession so that we attract people to this profession.”

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Brianna Blair graduates from college in December. She has already been hired to come on board full-time at the Tuscaloosa City schools upon graduation. She said the program is a great opportunity for students like her.

“I think this is a great program and I’m really looking forward to future interns,” Blair said. “This is an opportunity I would have liked to have had. I think she will enable some really good future educators to help future students.”