Education is crucial to the future of the United States both as a democratic republic with a large electorate and as a competitor in the international economy.
Unfortunately, America is facing a dire shortage of teachers, especially in fields such as special education. Fortunately, the Department of Special Education at Minnesota State University, Mankato, is looking to fill that gap with qualified graduates.
The department hosted a job fair, located in the Centennial Student Union on Monday. School districts from around the area, including the Mankato Area School District and the Maple River School District.
“We’re coming up to [MNSU] to get our name out there to try to track down would-be teacher candidates.” Ted Simon, the principal of the middle school and high school at Maple River Schools, said.
Simon said that the state is facing a severe shortage of teachers, but that special education is not the only area of shortage, though it is one of the most severe. “The special ed world has a shortage, but we have some other postings here that we’re looking for right now,” he said. “Everything from elementary education to high school business to special ed to social worker. You name it, we’re just trying to find quality candidates.”
This isn’t the first time they’ve looked at MNSU, either. Simon said that his district attended a fair at the university last year. “We were here last year, had good success with it. We hired a couple candidates from last year. We were very interested in coming back,” said Simon.
Special education teachers have numerous duties, and schools are focusing more on providing better education in the classroom to students with special needs. “At the high school level, we’re looking for more classroom instruction for special ed. We’re teaching skills, whether it’s study skills, social skills, reading comprehension, or mathematics. We’re actually teaching those skills to special education students,” said Simon.
And students are rising to the challenge. Farhan Mohamoud, one of the students attending the fair, is looking to become a special education teacher. Mohamoud is currently a student teacher working with special education students. He’s planning to work in that field after college. “Today was a good day, I got out and learned a lot, met a lot of people, I’ve talked with a lot of teachers,” he said.
MNSU is known for its education programs, and its students will continue to find meaningful careers in the field. There might be a shortage now, but with events like this connecting students to school districts, there soon won’t be.