"You have a supply and demand picture that's very promising," said Linda Hoff, Ph.D., professor of education and director of teacher education at Fresno Pacific University.
Teachers in the baby boom generation are retiring, while many students are not entering the education field because of what they're heard about cutbacks by school districts. In California, for example, 77,705 students in enrolled in teacher education programs in 2001. That number was down to 42,245 in 2009, according to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.
Meanwhile 400 teachers in Fresno Unified School District alone will be eligible to retire within the next five years. "There won't be enough well-prepared teachers to take the jobs that are offered," Hoff said.
Employment news is already good among those who recently earned their teaching credential from FPU. Hoff's staff emailed those who completed the program in 2012 and, based on a 98 percent response rate, found that 90 percent had received offers during the summer after they finished. "You can't find a district in the Valley where they didn't get jobs," she said.
In addition, Hoff is getting calls from school districts trying to fill openings, and she doesn't have enough teachers to fill the need. "This confirms the research," she said.
The success of FPU grads is due to more than just the general demand for teachers—school administrators seek out candidates from Fresno Pacific for their skills, professionalism and commitment. "At FPU we see teaching as a calling to redemptive service," Hoff said.
Following this call means doing more than the minimum. "We expect that graduates of our credential program will become scholars, professionals, peacemakers and leaders," she said.