Long Island academy training the next generation of teachers

Some high school students on Long Island are starting their college education early thanks to a unique program that's meant to help aspiring teachers.

Samantha Cruz and Brendan Kaminski are just two of the young students getting a head-start on the higher education paths to the profession by following in the footsteps of their teachers at Baldwin High School.

"I really want to work with elementary school kids," Cruz said. "I’m just excited to enter the workforce and make a difference."

The juniors are among 125 students enrolled in the District’s Education Academy. It’s a unique program developed through a partnership with Molloy University to give students starting in 9th grade the opportunity to take credited courses toward a teaching degree - with a goal to ultimately enter college as a sophomore. 

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"It’s helping them financially," said Samantha Billig, the Advisor of the Education Academy at Baldwin High School. "They’re in the classroom. They’re teaching and observing."

The students take part in hands-on teaching experience in the district’s schools.

"It makes me more prepared," Kaminski said. "We helped kids with assignments, we walk around the room."

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This innovative approach offers a solution to a growing teacher shortage that is impacting some parts of the nation more so than others.

"It takes the education process and makes it come alive," Dr. Shari Camhi, Superintendent of Schools said. "In the last 10-15 years there’s been so much negative publicity around the field of education that it changed people’s minds."

According to statistics, in New York, demand is outpacing supply as 180,000 New teachers are needed in the next decade amid anticipated retirements. 

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"Hopefully they come in as advanced standing students, then in their senior we would place them back in their home district to do their student teaching and then hopefully they would get a position," said Dr. Linda Kraemer, a Professor of Education at Molloy University. "Five years ago it was difficult to get a job. Now the jobs are plenty. We don’t have enough students to recommend."

Other school districts have expressed interest in The Education Academy and a handful of schools are already in talks with Molloy to fill a gap for the future of education.