Illinois State University helps students become teachers

ISU hosts fifth Future Teachers Conference for teens
Published: Nov. 3, 2023 at 6:34 PM CDT
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PEORIA (25News Now) -Friday, roughly 1,500 Illinois high school students learned to become teachers as Illinois State University hosted its annual Future Teachers Conference.

The conference started five years ago and has increasingly gained popularity throughout the state.

“As one of the biggest teacher prep programs in the U.S., we thought that we should have a similar opportunity for [high school] students,” said Kelli Appel, the director of recruitment at the College of Education at ISU and one of the event organizers.

The conference started with a welcome ceremony and went right into learning sessions, where they could learn about specific areas of teaching and tips on becoming a teacher.

In 2022-2023, the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools found 79% of the districts in its study reported a teacher shortage.

Appel hopes this day helps teens confirm interest and consider specializing in some areas of teaching experiencing shortages.

“It’s great to see these high school students are already asking questions like, ‘How do I get endorsements, and what do I do to get myself hired?’” Sarah Piotrowski, a coordinator of student teaching at ISU, explained why this event is exciting for the ISU education community. “That’s just an example of being proactive for their future careers.”

Leafar Taher, a student attendee, shared how teaching has been a career goal of hers.

“I just really want to empower kids, I want to be there for them, I want to support them, I want to be their safe space if they have no one else to go to,” said Taher.

“There are so many jobs in education that aren’t just teaching, and I think it is really important to choose what you love.” Addison Brown, another conference attendee, shared advice to other teens who want to pursue education, “Find your why, which we learned today, figure out why you want to be a teacher and why you want to help students.”

Appel shared the four-year process of becoming a teacher in Illinois requires a bachelor’s degree and a teaching license.

As of the 2023-2024 school year, the minimum salary for Illinois educators is $40,000 according to the State of Illinois.