TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WAWV/WTWO) – A program through the Indiana Commission for Higher Education aims to address a teacher shortage by paid residencies for education students.

The Teacher Residency Program will allow paid teaching experience for student educators who plan on teaching K-12.

Indiana State University Bayh College of Education will partner with the Vigo County School Corporation (VCSC) and Southwest Parke Community Schools (SWPCS) to address the shortages. Both VCSC’s Sarah Scott Middle School and SWPCS’s Rosedale Elementary are part of the College’s Professional Development Schools Partnership.

Dean of Bayh College of Education Brad Balch said there is a need for local educators.

“Year round we have empty classrooms and the need to fill those with highly qualified teachers,” Balch said.

Balch believes the pandemic has contributed to the shortage.

“Teachers were having to utilize new tools for teaching and learning,” said Balch. “Often times the very textbooks that they had adopted were never intended to be used in a digital or hybrid environment.”

However, the pandemic hasn’t been the only factor.

“Competitive salaries, pipelines, staff support and retention, are all important in the discussion of teaching shortages,” Balch said.

The partnership aims to keep future educators in the field.

“They’ll be able to engage in the same professional development and learning opportunities that a contract teacher would have,” Balch said.

Vigo County Reading Recovery Lead Teacher Karla Smith said many educators stay in the field for the students.

“It’s indescribable when you know you have helped a student make a connection or find their passion,” Smith said.

Smith said in her 20 years of teaching one thing never gets old.

“When you see the little light bulb go on in their head and see students reaction, it’s empowering,” Smith said.

The program is a year long and the Bayh College of Education looks to have more partnerships in the future.