CUTTER MORNING STAR, Ark – The Cutter Morning Star School District is working to combat the growing teacher and substitute shortage in the state, finding the answer in their students.

This Fall, the district will offer classes to juniors and seniors, to help fast track their teaching degrees.

The “Pre-Educator Program” the superintendent says is like a CTE course and will be funded using a $33 million grant from the State.

“We can start growing our own,” Cutter Morning Star Superintendent Nancy Anderson said.

Over the past year, Anderson says she has seen a growing number of teachers across the state leave the business, citing the stress from the pandemic.

Tuesday,  Governor Asa Hutchinson said in the last month Arkansas saw a workforce loss of about 1,000 in the health care and education business.

“When we went virtual, we were all hours,” Cutter Morning Star teacher Tish Tucker said.

Tucker says teachers have been working harder than they ever have before trying to adapt to changes from the pandemic. She says sometimes that means extra hours.  

“Every family has a different schedule,” Tucker said.

Tucker says the extra work and fear of getting sick could contribute to the teacher shortage in the nation. Superintendent Anderson says it could also be impacted by statistics that about 40 percent of teachers quit within the first three years of teaching.

“I think we have something like 60 percent novice teachers and of my 7 top administrative teams, five of them could retire today,” Anderson said.

Anderson says the district is trying to get ahead before the shortage gets worse. She’s hoping the program will get students back in the doors of the district as teachers.

“We want to give them the opportunity to get in that classroom and work with these kids,” Anderson said.

Classes are set to begin this Fall.