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Community College of Beaver County program lets high school students start becoming teachers

Community College of Beaver County program aims to address teacher shortage
Community College of Beaver County program aims to address teacher shortage 02:04

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Across the country, there is a severe teacher shortage and we're certainly seeing that here in the Pittsburgh area.

So in an effort to combat the issue, a community college in Beaver County is making high school students become the teacher. 

At first, it sounds crazy: high school juniors and seniors taking college credits so that they can become teachers sooner rather than later. In some cases, these teachers are as young as 20, maybe even younger.

It's called the Education High School Academy at the Community College of Beaver County. It works like this: the college offers credits that students as young as 16 can start taking so that by the time they graduate high school, they could have their associate's degree.

"These students know what they want to do, so they're so invested, they're so engaged with their classes, they're excited to be in that classroom one day," said Lia Hazelwood, a dual enrollment specialist at the Community College of Beaver County.

It may sound like an unconventional concept, but the college says they're adapting to changes in the education field. They say for years, with a deep teacher shortage and stagnant pay, the teaching career has been less than desirable.

"Last school year, the '22-23 school year, was the highest number of teachers that has left the profession," said Sonya Kitsko, an education professor at the Community College of Beaver County.

With the program is in its second year and ten graduating from it so far, they expect that number to rise. They believe for students who have a desire to solidfy a career early on and not pay such high tuition costs, this program is a win-win. 

"Students are excited to be sitting right alongside college students and taking the courses," said Kitsko.

"Every year we see more and more students taking advantage of dual enrollment opportunities, and we would love to see these students in the academy at CCBC," said Hazelwood.

Many of these students are also choosing to stay in the area once they graduate, which local school districts are very happy about.

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