More than 100 Northwest Suburban High School District 214 students signed letters of intent to become teachers and be part of a program to help them achieve that goal Thursday during a ceremony at the Forest View Education Center.
The program, called Educator Prep, recruits students interested in teaching and ensures they are highly qualified for their chosen profession. The students will be able to take education courses in high school, some of which can count for college credit at National Louis University or Northeastern Illinois University.
If they decide to attend those colleges, they will continue to receive professional development opportunities from District 214, including a guaranteed student teaching position in the district or one of its partnering elementary districts. If they successfully complete their higher education programs, they are guaranteed a job interview at District 214 or a partnering district if the position they are seeking is open.
"My colleagues across the country have expressed excitement and interest in replicating this program in their districts," Superintendent David R. Schuler said in a statement. "We truly are impacting public education in this country."
Rolling Meadows High School senior Marilyn Gutierrez was among the 110 students who signed letters Thursday. Gutierrez intends to be the first in her family to attend college and said the program helped her figure out what age group of kids she wanted to teach.
"I've had hands-on experience with children of all ages, from middle school to going to elementary schools," she said. "In the end, I want to teach elementary (school)."
District 214 also partners with Educators Rising, a national organization that offers unique opportunities and resources to help excite students about becoming teachers and developing their skills.
"By partnering with higher education institutions and organizations, we are building a pipeline of highly-qualified teachers," said Dan Weidner, District 214's director of academic programs and pathways. "These students are some of the best and brightest, and we will continue to invest in them to ensure they are successful beyond high school."