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Task force on teacher recruitment and retention begins its work

Dave Thompson

A task force has begun looking at attracting and retaining teachers in North Dakota.

The task force met in Bismarck Thursday.

Jamestown School Superintendent Dr. Rob Lech is a member of the task force. Lech said h’s hoping the task force will come up with plans to attract young people to the teaching profession – and keep them once they get into the classroom.

"We still get great candidates, but the pool is diminishing," Lech said in an interview. "I think we have a window of time right now to act. And if we don't act, then we're going to start seeing bigger problems, in terms of that pool."

Watford City Higher School principal Jim Green said because of the Bakken oil boom, he's had to hire a number of teachers.

"It's getting increasingly difficult to find quality teachers, and even find a number of applicants," Green said. "At times, we only have one qualified applicant — or less."

Both Lech and Green said teachers wants to feel valued.

"I hope our communities in North Dakota recognize how great of a job our teachers do, and how great of a profession it is," Lech said. "We have the role to make sure we're doing everything we can to make sure our teachers feel valued."

Green said he hopes the task force will find ways to improve the working conditions for teachers, and make the feel valued.

"You talk to teachers — we're our own worst enemy," Green said. "We don't sell the job very well. We talk a lot about the stressful parts, and we don't spend enough time celebrating the positive aspects of going into education, and all the benefits it does have."

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