Nonprofit Launches Campaign To Recruit The Best And Brightest Into Teaching Profession

May 9, 2017

An education nonprofit in Nashville has launched a statewide campaign aimed at convincing high-achieving students to consider the teaching profession. 

Tennessee schools are churning out fewer teachers, and districts face a looming shortage. An estimated 20,000 openings are predicted by 2024.

More: View Tennessee's 2016 report card for teacher prep programs

Think about a teacher you had and how he or she may have changed your life. That's the gist of some of these ads that will begin running on the web and radio.

"Teachers are leaders. Teachers make a difference. Teachers are changing tomorrow," one radio spot says.

A new website includes testimonials from teachers around the state.

"I love my career in the classroom, but I also feel that I could further my impact by spending time working in state education policy," Nashville teacher Mary Catherine Lockman writes. "To do this, I’m currently working on my master’s degree at Vanderbilt in learning, diversity and urban studies with a focus on education policy. I think education will always be a linking factor wherever my path takes me."

The State Collaborative on Reforming Education, founded by former Sen. Bill Frist and known as SCORE, is spending $400,000 on the recruitment campaign. They made the formal announcement Monday, alongside Tennessee's education commissioner, state lawmakers and a star teacher.

The initiative is meant to get top students thinking about education as an option. But they also want to make sure more teachers look like their students. In the latest year data is available, 86 percent of those in Tennessee's teacher prep programs were white while just 64 percent of students are now white. Put another way, students of color make up more than a third of school populations, but just 15 percent of teachers identify as people of color.