UND Faculty Recruitment and Retention Office Opens for Business

New office ready to address state and national teacher shortages

UND file photo.

Grand Forks, North Dakota – Months after announcing the creation of a new Office of Teacher Recruitment and Retention to address statewide and national teacher shortages, the UND School of Education and Human Development has now turned that ambitious idea into reality.

Key personnel in the Office of New Teacher Recruitment and Retention include new Director Ashley Smalley, a former West Fargo Middle School teacher who is about to complete the UND PhD in Educational Leadership, and new outreach specialist Monte Gaukler, a former Grand Forks teacher and UND adjunct professor.

“Our teachers are being asked to play more roles than ever, while they face unprecedented challenges from the district, the community, and the state and federal government,” Smalley said. “They feel unsupported, unappreciated, and overwhelmed both physically and mentally. Addressing the issues that keep educators in the professional world and inspire future educators requires systemic change and reform.

“Teachers are the heart of our school, so we must make a positive difference for them and our children.”

According to the U.S. Department of Education, teacher shortages in North Dakota span many areas, including early childhood and elementary education, math, social studies, and health and fitness. Both declining enrollment in teacher education programs and the COVID-19 pandemic have contributed to the current crisis.

Smalley and OTRR would like to see this trend reverse. According to OTRR’s mission statement, the office is committed to “increasing the diversity and total number of students enrolled in teacher preparation programs… [put] Time and effort to prepare our community for more new teachers… [and] Improve early career support, promote growth opportunities, work with all education stakeholders and work to retain high-quality teachers in our schools. “

Based on its stated goals, OTRR hopes to:

• Slowing or reversing declining enrollment in teacher education programs
• Provide support for current teachers and proactively address root causes of teacher stress and dissatisfaction
• Build more resources for children across the state through rural reading and STEM summer camps
• Introduce new training opportunities and recruit new students interested in educational careers

OTRR plans to share upcoming initiatives and new developments through the office’s website. Office inquiries can be directed to Ashley Smalley at 701.777.6095.

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