The latest education budget passedby the House would add 400 additional middle school teachers to classroomsacross the state. The Alabama Department of Education made this specificrequest to begin to bolster the state's graduation rate, engaging studentsbefore they become at risk of falling through the cracks.
In Elmore County, this could addas many as 8 additional teachers for the district's 4 middle schools. Thisis a unique opportunity, as every school receives funding for teachers based onenrollment numbers.
According to Elmore CountySchools Deputy Superintendent, Dr. André Harrison, it couldn't have comeat a more critical time, "That is an age where you have to have some of yourbest teachers doing a lot of creative teaching to keep the kids focused."
Middle school students are oneof the most vulnerable demographics in public education. As studentsembrace their teenage years, they are also forming a foundation in keysubjects. If the concept isn't learned, those are typically the topstudents at risk for dropping out years later.
"Sometimes you have to do somemath intervention, and work with these kids to give them different types ofsupport," Harrison adds. "Math would be a key emphasis for additional teacherunits."
To educate middle schoolstudents, Harrison would love to add anywhere between 15-20 educators.
"We would focus on pre-apprograms, building electives that would get the middle school students excitedabout learning," Harrison says.
Some middle schools, with ampleteacher units, have begun an advisory program, allowing teachers time to talkto the students and explain the real value of education, opening opportunitiesfor students to think about academic opportunities after high school.
According to the AlabamaDepartment of Education, the additional teachers would be assigned by the localdistricts in schools with the greatest enrollment needs.
For Harrison, it's a realopportunity to decrease classroom sizes, giving students additional support.
The budget must go back to theSenate before it's sent to Governor Bentley's desk.
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