In 2008, the economy took a turn for the worse. Schools all over the United States were hit hard. Teachers were losing their jobs and people who thought about becoming schoolteachers strayed from the profession.
But now, several years later, the opposite is in effect.
“We have been hit very hard over the last six years,” Dean of the College of Education Leif Gustavson, said. “Ever since then we have been trying to crawl our way back. We have slowly seen numbers increase in our programs.”
Something that used to seem bleak is now clearing up as nation wide school districts are in high demand for teachers. Prior to the gradual turn around, people who wanted to pursue a career as a teacher had a hard time finding a job in Oregon.
“In the past few years there has been a very low demand for teachers in Oregon,” Director of the School of Learning and Teaching Mark Bailey said. “Going back four to five years ago there was a huge drop off. Because of this, our students went abroad.”
Some schools, not including Pacific University, shut down their College of Education as the enrollment decreased and people sought outside of the state and even country for teaching opportunities.
Last year a turn around began to show. As the economy dug its way out of the rut, funding for schools increased.
“This year the vast majority will probably again no longer have to go out of state in order to be hired,” Bailey said. “We now have competition. Schools have been coming to us well before our students are graduated saying ‘can we interview your candidates? We will bring our interview here and interview you on campus so we can hire the best students before anyone else gets them.’”
Several teachers, who were once laid off in Portland public schools, as well as other schools districts, were hired back. In the last couple of years, several students from Pacific who didn’t find jobs have now been hired, particularly teachers who are English Who are Speakers of Other Languages certified.
“Come be a teacher, there are jobs and it’s a great time to be part of the teacher preparation program,” Bailey said. “With regards to classroom there shortly won’t be enough teachers who are prepared for the number of jobs that are available.”
Presently, Pacific offers an undergraduate teacher licensure program for both general and special education that is aimed at early childhood and elementary teaching. At a graduate level, the Masters of Arts in Teaching is a year-long program that allows people to gain a more in depth knowledge of what they’re teaching so they may teach at higher levels.
“With a degree in education you really become a master communicator, and know how to write, speak, and engage people,” Assistant Director of Graduate and Professional Admissions Diana Watkins said. “It’s experiential based learning.”
As for future careers in education, the amount of jobs available for schoolteachers doesn’t predict a decline anytime soon.
“I recently saw a statistic where it was projected that Oregon was going to need 16,000 to 17,000 teachers by 2020,” Watkins said. “The market is definitely going to be on the upswing for teachers.”