Semester after semester, school districts in the area are seeing more empty classrooms.

ECISD’s Human Resources Director of Initiatives & Operations, Elaine Smith, says ECISD received 270 teacher resignations at the end of this school year and now face 400 vacancies.

“We’re working constantly to lower those high numbers and increase those hired as we go,” said Smith.

Months ago, ECISD took matters into their own hands and kicked-off their Pathway to Teaching program. Smith says it was successful; the program will now bring in 32 new teachers come Fall.

But ECISD is not the only one addressing the issue head-on. To help, the University of Texas of the Permian Basin took proactive measures four years ago by creating Future Falcon Leaders in Teacher Education.

“It’s been a struggle as we really try to change the culture in this area and the way people view the field of teaching,” said Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education, Lindsey Balderaz.

Balderaz says she felt a need for a program like this. FFLITE is a two-day summer camp that targets high school students looking to become prospective teachers.

“We tend to raise our students up and see them leave and flee the area,” explained Balderaz. “but we really need to have a good sense of our roots here. And students who grow up in this community probably have a better chance at being successful, because they understand the culture and they understand some of the challenges that we face.”

Different than other years, one lucky student will receive a scholarship through ECISD Education Foundation in Summer 2019. The scholarship will be contigent upon the chosen student returning to ECISD to teach for at least two years.

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