FGCU program hopes to alleviate teacher drought in Lee County

Reporter: Asha Patel
Published: Updated:

It’s well documented that Lee County is struggling to hire teachers, but the school district hopes to change that.

The district is allowing student teachers to stay in the classroom for longer with the hope of adding them to their team when they graduate.

They are also getting a chance to see which grade and subjects are the best fit for them and, overall, their desire to become a teacher.

The Flyers Program allows students from Florida Gulf Coast University to be in a classroom with actual students so they can get real-life experience, and we got to see that on Monday.

It’s not rare to see someone juggling being a full-time college student, having an unpaid internship and a part-time job.

However, Rachael Peitz said she is grateful to have a paid internship through FGCU’s Flyers Program.

“I don’t have to worry about the finances, I can focus on writing my lessons in the afternoons after school and not having to work another job, so I feel like I’ve really been able to give myself, you know, give the kids a better version of myself, just being able to focus solely on school in my internship,” said Peitz.

WINK News got the chance to see her day as a student-teacher at Bayshore Elementary in North Fort Myers.

“I spend the mornings with my regular student teaching practices where I do all my lessons. I also have a third-grade intervention group that I work with to do extra phonics practice with them,” said Peitz. “Then, in the afternoons, I transition to a kindergarten classroom, where I just supervise for an hour, and then a first-grade classroom as well.”

FGCU said they created the program partly to help with the teacher shortage issue locally and nationwide.

“Our most important mission is to get high-quality teachers into our local schools,” said Peitz.

Peitz is a clear example of how well the program is working.

“I have interviews set up this week. Working to figure out my specific school and where I’m going to be,” said Peitz.

Bayshore Elementary’s principal told WINK News that 14 FGCU students who are part of the Flyers Program are working part-time.

At the elementary school, 11 of them have jobs lined up by the end of the semester.

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