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Politics & Government

State superintendent says 'we may need to think outside the box' to attract teachers

North Dakota has been facing teacher shortages.

And North Dakota’s Superintendent of Public Instruction says it may take a mindset change to help meet the needs.

Kirsten Baesler says it goes beyond the traditional ways, where aspiring teachers went into teacher education  programs, and were ready for the classroom at 22 years of age.

"I've had the fortunate blessing to visit with several people who were considering teaching as a second career," said Baesler. "They're in their late 30s and early 40s, and had chose more of an economically fruitful career, but aren't feeling fulfilled. I think we have to find ways to encourage that person, because it's about the motivations, and why you go into teaching."

Baesler says the state should also encourage people who struggled in grade school and high school – to also consider teaching as a second career. She says those people can bring a particular insight.

"They bring another set of unique skills and experiences that are valuable," said Baesler. "If they struggled in K-12, and are finding their stride in their mid or late 20s, their experiences can really benefit, and they can connect with current K-12 students who are feeling those same challenges that they did."

This year, every area of instruction has been labeled as “critical” in terms of not having enough teachers.

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