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MMSD Signing Day aims to ease the pressure of teacher shortages

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MMSD Signing Day.jpg

MADISON (WKOW) -- Student teachers from the Madison Metropolitan School District are signing contracts for the upcoming school year. MMSD staff says they're excited about the new energy coming to a field that's been struggling to fill positions. 

"We've had a problem of less teachers in the pipeline and the pandemic has just exacerbated that issue," Jen Schoepke, MMSD and UW Madison College of Education staff, said.

Schoepeke says because of the shortage coupled with the pandemic, more work has been put on teachers than they could have predicted 10 years ago. 

"The good thing is the folks that we're seeing coming in, they're passionate about teaching, passionate about equity. They want to make a difference," Schoepke said. 

For MMSD staff, those qualities make an educator the perfect candidate for a Madison classroom. 

"I did not have any representation of who I am in my teachers," Trixie Cataggatan, UW Madison senior, said. "I saw no Asian American teachers, I saw no Phillipinx teachers. That is something that's important to a child." 

Cataggatan is currently student teaching in a first grade classroom at Shorewood Elementary. Her goal for her future classroom is to be a place where students can take pride in their cultural identity. 

"My cultural identity is a big part of who I am and something I take pride in. So that's one of the big reasons I want to go into education," Cataggatan said. "I love creating those intimate relationships with students because that's important for building a classroom community with them. To make them feel safe and loved."

But, she knows she is walking into a struggling field. 

"It's definitely something I'm nervous for," Cataggatan said. "Going out of college, finding a job, going into the real world, of course it's going to be nerve wracking." 

"Last year was historic in terms of the number of vacancies we had," Dr. Carlton Jenkins, MMSD superintendent, said. "But, we also had a historical number of [fillings]."

Dr. Jenkins says the teacher shortage has been hard on everyone in education. Teachers, administration and support staff are run down and spread thin. 

But he hopes each school year will see more growth. 

"You do see now individuals getting excited again coming back and doing this work," Dr. Jenkins said. 

Student teachers at Signing Day were able to interview with MMSD schools right at the event to jumpstart the job hunt in the district. Dr. Jenkins says he hopes events like this show current and future educators they're appreciated.