Marian University trains veterans to relieve teacher shortage

Marian University trains veterans to relieve teacher shortage

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — With Indiana in the middle of a severe teacher shortage, one Indianapolis university has started a training program for veterans as a possible solution.

You’ve probably driven by Marian University, the small private university founded by the Sisters of Saint Francis in 1937. The original mission of the school was to train teachers. 

Kenith Britt, senior vice president of Teacher Learning Excellence and dean of Klipsch Educators College at Marian, is helping rewrite how teachers are trained.

“The number one in-school factor for school performance is the teacher, so we take that very seriously in terms of how we recruit, who we recruit” said Britt.

Britt is looking for people who have already gone through one recruitment process: military veterans.

“We started thinking about how can we help IPS (Indianapolis Public Schools), particularly recruit talented, service-minded teachers who understand trauma and who are going to make the commitment to stay,” said Britt.

The teaching program at Marian is a five-year commitment, and prospective teachers are put into local classrooms, in what Britt calls their clinicals. The fifth-year is a paid residency program. This is a huge time commitment, and the university believes veterans are a perfect fit.

“Through their training and background, they understand trauma. Some of them have gone through trauma themselves if they have been deployed in some circumstances, and that commitment is fierce,” Britt said.

As part of the program, Marian students teach avatars, computer-generated students. For many, the training is their first experience leading a classroom.

Karen Betz, an instructor at Marian, says she welcomes the older and potentially more focused veteran students.

“So they are going to bring a different dynamic to the program, and when I talk about practice, but their feedback is going to be a little different because they are looking through a different lens. I think that is going to bring a nice twist,” Betz said.

The university has not set a limit on the number of veterans they will accept into the program.

According to the Indiana Department of Education, the state is in dire need of STEM teachers, and most other basic programs have shortages.