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K-State offering program to help address Kansas teacher shortage

Like many other professions, rural Kansas is falling short on teachers, but so are some urban areas in the state. A new program at Kansas State University aims to change all that.

As KCUR reports, K-State has developed a one-year, online program for those with undergraduate degrees to take to get a masters’ degree in elementary teaching.

According to a press release, the program is called the Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.), a pathway that enables undergraduate students to earn the degree in 12 months and be recommended for Kansas’ initial teacher licensure in grades K-6, through online coursework and experiences in the field that are arranged at accredited elementary schools convenient to students in the program.

Debbie Mercer, dean of the College of Education, believes this innovative program can help address the state's and nation's projected teacher needs while maintaining high professional standards.

"The college frequently receives inquiries from college graduates who want to become teachers but there has been no path available to them, other than the bachelor degree in education," Mercer said. "Now, they have a road to that goal from a trusted, cost-effective program that has prepared teachers for more than 150 years."

Dodge City, Garden City, Great Bend and Liberal are among the six school districts partnering with K-State for what Thomas Vontz, professor of curriculum and instruction, described as another innovative aspect to the degree program, the Kansas Transitions to Teaching, or KTTT, a project that will provide a $6,000 fellowship and funding to purchase necessary technology for 30 career changers from underserved school districts in Kansas.

The other school districts are in Topeka and Kansas City.

KTTT fellows must complete the program, obtain the necessary licensure and engage in full-time teaching in an underserved geographic area in Kansas within six months of licensure.

"The M.A.T. and KTTT have mitigated many of the financial, educational and geographic obstacles that previously prevented passionate people from becoming educators," Vontz said. "The KTTT is especially beneficial for people interested in teaching in underserved districts in Kansas."