Thursday, May 23, 2019

Leadership lived: UIS online student presents her research on the Illinois teacher shortage at the state capitol


Jen Brooks leads a busy life working a full-time job, while raising two children. That’s why she decided the University of Illinois Springfield’s online Teacher Education Program was the perfect choice to help her complete the state’s requirements to become a teacher.

Brooks, who is completing her secondary education licensure, recently presented her research on the Illinois teacher shortage to lawmakers at the state capitol as part of the sixth annual Illinois Innovation Network Undergraduate Research Day.

“I'm started off at the Brown vs. Board of Education decision and how that decision impacted the current teacher shortage now,” she said. “What I discovered was that as a result of integration, as the black schools were absorbed into the white schools to integrate, 38,000 African American teachers lost their job. We still have a huge gap today.”

Brooks, who lives in Bloomington, Illinois, says she learned about the UIS online Teacher Education Program from another teacher who had completed the program.

“I was at a different school online and she's like ‘no, no don't do that.’ You have to come to UIS. Their program is awesome,” she said. “They'll help you with placement and everything.”

Brooks, who was inducted into the UIS Kappa Delta Pi Educational Honor Society, has been observing an elementary school classroom this semester and will start student teaching next semester.

“What makes it special is how student-centered UIS is,” she said. “I've been to other schools where it's more ‘I'm the professor this is how we do it,’ but I do not get that here. It's student-led, so you take control of your learning.”

Following completion of her licensure requirements, Brooks hopes to teach at an elementary school in the Bloomington-area.

“I also want to continue my research, so I feel like I'm going to be more of a teacher-researcher, than just a teacher,” she said. “In the future, I'd like to become a professor, get into higher education, but definitely education is in my future.”