BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — SUNY Buffalo State has kicked off a new program called Find Your Path Back to Teaching. It’s in an effort to help certify teachers and fill an ongoing shortage of school teachers who are leaving through retirement and burn-out.
According to the National Education Association, 55 percent of teachers say they plan to retire earlier than originally planned because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That's up from 37 percent last summer.
90 percent of those asked say burn-out is a serious problem and 67 percent the situation is very serious.
“I think COVID did send people over the edge — no doubt,” remarked Dr. Wendy Paterson, dean, School of Education, SUNY Buffalo State.
Dr. Paterson is on the front lines of educating and helping to certify future school teachers.
Paterson says there are huge teacher shortages across the country and right here in Western New York.
Buffalo State created the new path program to support teacher candidates.
Dr. Paterson says anyone who didn't complete their certification is encouraged to join this program.
“We want to get them all back — get them certified — and get them into classrooms,” replied Dr. Paterson.
Educators say some teaching candidates left the state before becoming certified because New York State has tougher certification requirements.
“It is unnecessarily difficult and complex and what buffalo state has done with help of New York State Ed is clear away some of those unnecessary obstacles,” responded Michael Cornell, superintendent, Hamburg Central School District.
Cornell says his district saw a significant number of retirements a couple of years ago, but not this year.
“We feel like we have a pretty good handle on when people are retiring and we've really not had any significant difficulty in filling teaching positions in our school district,” noted Cornell.
According to the state’s Teacher Retirement System teachers normally retired based on years of service and age.
“I think that there is a life cycle for teachers and most of them will probably move on at age 55 or so,” Paterson replied.
The Buffalo State path program provides teaching candidates support through workshops to help them become certified teachers. Paterson says she is hoping it can help fill two major areas in education — special ed and substitute teachers.
“The substitute teaching shortage right now is dire, so if that is at all predictive of what's going to happen in August — we really do need to have more candidates,” Paterson described.
Buffalo State held an open house earlier this month for the program and Paterson it was a big success, so now they will be hosting a second Find Your Path Back to Teaching on July 27 at the Buffalo State Alumni Center, 4:30 p.m to 6:00 p.m.