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Peoria Public Schools teacher shortage solved by hiring internationally

PPS

PEORIA (WEEK) -- A teacher shortage for years in Peoria Public Schools has finally turned around. Superintendent, Sharon Kherat, said the district solved its problem by recruiting internationally.

"The majority of the buildings, super majority are fully staffed," said Kherat.

That's something Kherat had not been able to say for a few years.

A teacher shortage, no longer a problem for Peoria Public Schools. Kherat said the Visiting International Teacher Program with the Illinois State Board of Education was the answer.

"I felt bad that time and time again we had kids in classrooms with subs year in and year out and we knew, I knew, we had to do something about it," said Kherat.

Five years ago the district was short 79 teachers, but this fall they only need three new instructors.

Kherat said they used eight different recruiting strategies, reimagining ways to find new educators.

"With 30 teacher coming, international teachers, and that's very specific, lot's of documentation, a lot of moving parts. We had been working on that initiative for the last two years or more," said Kherat.

Those teachers will come from places like the Philippines, Cameroon and the Dominican Republic.

"The principals were very very involved, they interviewed the candidates, they were able to determine if those candidates were a good fit for their buildings," said Kherat.

Kherat said the students could also benefit from these teachers.

"Our children will have access to knowledge about their country as well," said Kherat.

Kherat said she had never felt more prepared going into a new school year.

"Now we have qualified stable individuals in the system who can start focusing on improving our reading scores, our math scores, our communication," said Kherat.

The district will have about 100 new teachers this fall. Kherat said that was almost double their usual total.

The international program will last for three to five years.

Paige Blanzy

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