Messiah University partners with local school districts to help address the teacher shortage in Pennsylvania

Messiah University partners with local school districts to help address the teacher shortage in Pennsylvania

Adult students talking to one another in a classroom.

With the significant decline in students graduating with teaching certification majors, and the teacher attrition rate at an all-time high in Pennsylvania,* Messiah University is partnering with local school districts to address the teacher shortage in its region. Messiah has launched two new initiatives designed to increase the number of teachers in Pennsylvania. The first program, Educators for Tomorrow, launching in fall 2024, encourages high school students to explore teaching as a career and to consider a teacher certification pathway in college. The second program, a Teacher Certification Initiative, now underway, is designed as a pathway to help teachers in local school districts who currently hold a temporary emergency/intern certification to earn Level I state certification, which is the certification needed to teach long term.

"We are excited to work with Messiah University as a partner in preparing individuals for a career in K-12 education,” said Mark Blanchard, superintendent of schools, Cumberland Valley School District. “Exposing current high school students to the field of education through the Educators for Tomorrow initiative is a critical step in showing them the opportunities available for meaningful work in an important field. In addition, those who are considering education as a second career are often met with seemingly insurmountable barriers to certification. Messiah has created a high-quality affordable pathway for those individuals to pursue teaching as a real possibility. These efforts will make a difference in bringing highly qualified candidates into our classrooms," Blanchard said.

About Educators for Tomorrow

High school juniors and seniors in the Educators for Tomorrow program will participate in a one-year cohort, starting each fall, which will include three different components:

  1. Earning dual enrollment credit in education-specific courses—Students can earn both high school and college credit by taking two college-level education courses via dual enrollment from Messiah University (in-person and online class options).
  2. Attending events focused on education and teaching hosted at Messiah University’s campus—Students receive invitations to events sponsored by the Education Association of Messiah University; the Teacher Education Program; and other guest speakers and/or education-focused honors projects.
  3. Participating in experienced-based learning led by the school district where the student is enrolled—In most cases, students will serve as a teacher’s assistant with activities including observing/assisting teachers and then reflecting upon their experience.

“Messiah is excited to launch Educators for Tomorrow this fall and collaborate with school districts to help cultivate the next generation of teachers in Pennsylvania,” said Rob Pepper, executive director and assistant to the president for innovation and university partnerships. “We’re encouraged by the early interest of local educators and students in this new program, and we’re pleased to build on Messiah’s reputation of graduating education majors who become committed teachers successfully serving students in our region and beyond.”

About Messiah’s Teacher Certification Initiative

For many years, Messiah’s Graduate Program in Education has offered teacher certification programs designed to help those who have already earned a bachelor’s degree in a field other than education to earn initial Level I teaching certification in Pennsylvania.

In response to the teacher shortage, Messiah is now partnering directly with local school districts to provide a streamlined initial Level I certification track for those individuals who are already teaching in their schools on a temporary emergency/intern teaching certificate. Specifically, districts have the opportunity to coordinate cohorts of emergency-certified teachers from their schools to complete their initial certification track in 18-24 months via online coursework from Messiah. This allows these teachers to continue working in the classroom while they pursue the certification they need to teach long term.

“This initiative is an ideal, accessible solution for local school districts who want to equip their temporary emergency-certified teachers to pursue a longer-term career in teaching,” said Christina Simmons, director of Messiah University’s Graduate Program in Education. “Messiah University has an established relationship with our local school districts. They have successfully hired our graduates, and many of their teachers have already completed graduate work at Messiah—so they know and trust the strength of our teacher education programs. We’re privileged to help prepare these ‘career change’ educators to serve their school district and their students effectively.”

About Messiah University

Founded in 1909 and located near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Messiah University is a nationally ranked, private Christian university of the liberal and applied arts and sciences that enrolls 3,320 undergraduate and graduate students.




* According to research conducted by Penn State’s Center for Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis, the overall supply-demand ratio of the number of new Instructional I licenses to the number of beginning teachers hired in Pennsylvania school districts has declined substantially from 2013-14 to 2020-21 for all major subject areas.

According to research conducted by Penn State’s Center for Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis, for 2022-23 the annual teacher attrition rate was 7.7%, meaning over 9,000 teachers left their positions in Pa. The previous high was 7.5% in 2014.