KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Student teachers will be paid for their time in the North Kansas City School District.

The district announced it will begin offering student teachers a $2,500 stipend beginning with the spring semester next year. The district says it has plans to expand the stipend to $5,000 for student teachers who are in classrooms for the 2023-2024 school year.

North Kansas City Schools said it’s the first district in the metro to pay student teachers.

Alyssa George is a student teacher in second grade math at Chapel Hill Elementary. She’s earning an education degree at the University of Missouri.

Student teachers are usually unpaid, which can create obstacles and bills add up fast. But North Kansas City School District’s change will be a boost for her and others.

“I thought about looking for jobs for the weekend because I truthfully thought this is going to be rough,” George said. “So it’s extremely helpful.”

The district hopes the program will encourage college students to get into the education field and help the district combat teacher shortages by hiring teachers who were student teachers in the district.

“I truthfully do think it will recruit a ton of new student teachers because I have friends who are in other districts and they’re like, ‘Wait how do you have that?'” George said. “And I’m like, ‘I don’t know. They just decided. It’s a new thing.’ And so now they’re like, ‘Can we come?’ And they want to switch for next semester.”

The school district struggled to hire bus drivers, paraprofessionals, food service employees, and workers to help with school-age childcare earlier this school year.

Student teachers are required to have classroom experience before graduating from college, but the position usually isn’t paid. That can lead to financial issues for people who want to become teachers. The North Kansas City stipend covers the entire student teaching requirement, which is one to two semesters.

“Our profession, as they say, produces all other professions. “So, it’s pretty critical that we get this figured out, the teacher shortage,” Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Todd Schuetz said.

About 30 student teachers will be eligible for the stipend when the spring semester starts in January, according to the district. The hope is to expand the number of student teachers in the district to 50 by August.

“The student teachers provide for us a very obvious and direct pipeline to the classroom, and so everybody who goes through that path then to eventually takes over a classroom.,” Schuetz said. “We wanted to bring as many of those student teachers to our district as we possibly can.”

The North Kansas City School District said the stipends will be paid through a federal teacher recruitment and retention grant.

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