From the Farm: Vo-ag teacher shortage

The Morning Show

ILLINOIS (WCIA) — While a large number of teachers left the vo-g ranks, there will be some new graduates to take a few of the positions, says Dean Dittmar.

He helps school districts find candidates to fill the vacancies.

“We do have a challenge again this year, even though we did have 38 graduates in agricultural education in May of 2021, though only 7 of those individuals are left at this point out of those 38,” he says. “Thirty-one have either taken teaching positions or jobs within industry, grad school and so on. We are now looking at individuals that might be able to obtain an educator license with stipulations, which was formerly called a provisional certificate.

“So we will begin looking at those individuals, plus again every year we don’t have every graduating class take positions the first year so there may be other individuals out there that do have a teaching certificate that are going to be able to fill these positions. But as of right now we are looking at 55 openings across the state that we have had at this point. Looking at 20 of those not filled at this point. So those are challenging numbers for us.”

WCIA: That picture of Illinois vocational agriculture is filled with storm clouds if programs must close for lack of a teacher.

“The sunshine is that it is early, meaning that we have approximately 70 days to be able to fill these positions before school does start,” says Dittmar. “The other bright spot is that numbers do look good as far as the pipeline right now as far as juniors in agriculture education going to be seniors. So we are looking at those well above 35, and even into the low 40’s right now for graduation in May of 2022.”

Fifty-five openings is a daunting number.

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