Lee County making up for teacher shortage with training program

Published: July 20, 2021 10:52 AM EDT
Updated: July 20, 2021 3:34 PM EDT

We are now three weeks away from the start of another school year and Lee County still needs around 50 teachers, so the School District of Lee County is helping people with other professions become educators.

Lee County is hiring more teachers through a program called Alternative Lee, an alternate route to getting professionally certified as an educator. Through this program, anyone with a degree, no matter what the focus, can become a professional teacher. Alternative Lee simplifies the process by allowing these new teachers the chance to meet state requirements through job-embedded tasks designed to support their effectiveness in the classroom. The District offers the program free to qualifying teachers who, in turn, agree to teach in Lee County for three years after graduating.

“We have to kind of pivot and, you know, make sure that we’re addressing those needs,” said Kindra Pinnac, coordinator of professional development for the SDLC. “What we found is, hey, we need you, you don’t have the credentials to really do this work. But we think that you have the capability of being a really effective educator based on just your heart.”

SDLC says it offers this program to help combat turnover and support its new teachers, since the first two to four years are critical to making teachers both successful in the classroom and satisfied with their choice of career. New teachers are typically the most vulnerable group within the profession.

“If teachers are looking to come to our district, please, please, please—if they have not gone through the college of education, if they don’t have an education background, if they’re preparing for professional educational testing and qualification—this is the course that they need to be in, because it does challenge you, but it also can provide you comfort,” said Devarsious McCants, an educator and graduate of Alternative Lee who works at Lehigh Acres Middle School.

Lee County says 53 teachers have graduated from the program since it launched in 2019, giving Alternative Lee a 1,528% annual return on investment.

Visit The School District of Lee County’s website career page for opportunities.