Meet the ‘cadets’ in the Pickens County school district’s Teacher Cadet program

Pickens County teacher cadet program
Published: May. 10, 2023 at 6:03 PM CDT
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PICKENS COUNTY, Ala. (WBRC) - The Alabama Teacher Shortage Task Force found recently that 30% of all classrooms are being taught by educators teaching outside of their field. Many have retired, quit, or just moved on.

One program in Pickens County is doing its part to make up the shortfall of teachers.

It’s known as the Pickens County Teacher Cadet program, and Wednesday, five high school seniors made a public commitment to become the next generation of teachers.

With her signatures on the dotted line, high school senior Chanley Campbell intends to fulfill a life-long dream; spend a career in the classroom and mold minds and hearts.

“My father was an educator. Being around little kids, it just makes me so happy,” said Campbell.

Campbell is not alone. Jaquada Brooks wants to do the very same thing.

“I just want to inspire students like teachers do now. That’s where my heart is,” Brooks said.

The Pickens County Teacher Cadet program is a joint effort by the county school district and the University of West Alabama.

The program started eight years ago, the first of its kind at the time in the state, according to Shawn McDaniel. No one disputes the notion the field has changed in the last 20 years or so, but McDaniel feels it is still a worthy profession.

“Going into teaching is certainly a challenging profession, but it’s also very rewarding. You have an opportunity to give hope and change direction for a student,” said McDaniel, who is the principal of the Pickens County Career Tech program.

The signing ceremony didn’t obligate the students to anything more than just simply committing themselves to teaching as a profession. The 5 students here certainly won’t make up the shortfall, but they will join a growing list of cadets who became teachers since the program started, more than 100 and counting.

“I can tell you that UWA has a teacher in every county in the state of Alabama,” said Susan Hester of the University of West Alabama.

The five cadets will soon graduate from high school and then it’s off to college. They are on the road to help alleviate a severe teacher shortage.

All five individuals will become students at the University of West Alabama and the University of Alabama.

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