Through Educators Rising, Fayette County Public Schools (FCPS) is taking bold steps to encourage and equip students interested in education as a career field. This national organization provides not only useful resources and networking opportunities for teenagers, but also a rich curriculum to supplement our teachers’ efforts in the classroom.
The district’s “Grow Your Own” (GYO) initiative helped sponsor eight teachers to attend the recent Educators Rising conference in Orlando, Florida, for training on the curriculum, which is now offered to all our high schools. “Nationally there is a teacher shortage, and we have seen declining enrollments,” said Lori Bowen, director of Educator Development in our Office of Human Resources. “FCPS wants to be proactive in authentically engaging students. This gives them experiences in high school to allow them to try it and see if they’re passionate about it.”
In another example, nearly two dozen students served as teaching assistants in the 2023 Summer Ignite program, working with elementary children under the supervision of mentors with classroom experience. All were male students of color, which was intentional. “We really want our students to have shared experiences with classroom teachers and to see teachers who look like them,” Bowen said.
Iris Isaacs, an English teacher in the education-focused pathway at Frederick Douglass High School, expects the added classroom resources to provide deep, enriching experiences for her students – especially those active in the Educators Rising Career & Technical Student Organization (CTSO). “The curriculum is easy to use as is, or you can modify it to match the needs of your classroom. It’s broken down into thematic units and works well with our dual-credit curriculum,” Isaacs said.
The Educators Rising club at Douglass had a successful run through last year’s competitions, with students placing in the Top 10 nationally in four events. Isaacs, whose group had over a dozen qualifiers for the Orlando conference, thinks the new curriculum will enhance the next round of preparation.
Amanda Sewell, a Family Consumer Sciences teacher at Tates Creek High School, said the curriculum can also help incorporate CTSOs in their classroom instruction through redesigned lessons with up-to-date links, articles, and research.
“Using the Educators Rising curriculum helps students make connections with current cross-cutting themes such as social justice and advocacy, self-reflection, and cultural competence, and how they relate to the teaching profession,” Sewell said. “It helps us to lead class discussions where students reflect on their personal values and characteristics and analyze how those things are connected to the characteristics of effective teachers. I believe through lessons like this, students can truly start to see themselves in the role of a teacher.”