NFTE educators are the backbone of our model. Hardworking NFTE teachers go above and beyond to build the next generation of diverse entrepreneurs. Their passion, innovation, and dedication are evident in classrooms across the country and around the world. They bring our curriculum to life and connect directly with students to encourage and inspire – which is why we feel strongly about investing in educator support.
This recent USA Today article dives deep into teacher shortages across the country – often due to the lack of support educators get in their own learning journeys. What can be done? Mentorship and coaching for teachers, especially new educators, is vitally important because the statistics show that a huge amount of teacher attrition happens within the first several years of a teacher’s career. Any teacher will tell you that it takes time before they have command of their classroom and subject. From that perspective, support during those initial years is crucial, whether it’s in the form of veteran teacher mentorship – much like NFTE’s Master Educator program – or through outside resources that connect to specific topics like our educator training and certification resources.
Additionally, across the nation there still remains huge unspent funds from federal support bills that were meant to aid during the pandemic. These once-in-a-generation resources are often geared toward helping students through special tutoring or additional services, but few focus specifically on supporting teachers. Beyond providing a fair and livable wage for educators, this funding can help create in-school and district-led mentorship programs that will provide the psychological and emotional support teachers need to feel like they are part of a community. Replicating existing means of support like NFTE’s Professional Learning Community will allow teachers to join together to talk about common struggles and opportunities to make teachers feel less alone.
NFTE5, our July 10-12 Entrepreneurial Education Summit is an example of a space to cultivate educator camaraderie. For three days, educators from around the world will gather to advance their talents, skills, and knowledge alongside their peers through networking, idea-sharing, educational sessions, and pitching their business ideas. Most importantly, teachers will leave the summit with an exponentially expanded vital network of fellow educators. Building a sense of community among educators is one of many useful tools NFTE has cultivated over 35-plus years – tools that have been vetted by our wonderful teachers and that we continue to expand.
Beyond teacher retention, how can we attract new teachers? In addition to solid pay and creating a school environment where teachers have a real voice, influence, and decision-making power, the focus on opportunities for educators to teach something different and innovative is rarely given attention. A lot of teachers love to teach NFTE because it’s fundamentally different from the way they teach other subjects: it’s project-based, student-centered, experiential learning that involves hands-on collaboration and ideation. Additionally, NFTE educators have found value in connecting their students to our network of volunteers. Volunteers from the business community bring real-world experience directly to the classroom, helping students become more engaged and build their own professional networks. Together, this creates a more robust and fun learning environment for students and teachers. And when students are engaged, so are the teachers.
About NFTE’s CEO
Dr. J.D. LaRock is the President & CEO of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), a global nonprofit organization founded in 1987 that provides high-quality entrepreneurship education to middle school, high school, and young adult students from under-resourced communities.
Previously, J.D. served in the administration of Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, as President of the Commonwealth Corporation, the state’s workforce development authority. J.D. was also education policy director for Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and senior education advisor to Sen. Ted Kennedy. J.D. is a Professor of the Practice of Law and Policy at Northeastern University and a member of the Education Commission of the States. He earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Harvard University and a law degree from Georgetown University.