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Student Teachers Eager to Serve Young People Full-Time

Student teacher Kelsey Christensen starts each morning the same way at Jefferson Elementary. She greets bus riders, then helps students get settled in their classrooms.
“I love Ms. Kelsey because she’s nice,” said Elizabeth Arriaga-Aguiluz, Jefferson Elementary first-grader. “And she helps me with my math.”
Christensen, a University of Nebraska Omaha senior, supports our district as a student teacher this semester.
“Everyone at Jefferson makes me feel so welcome,” she said. “Being here, getting to know the kids and the staff and learning new things is amazing.”

Christensen is one of approximately 40 student teachers already committed to full-time teaching positions with Omaha Public Schools. They will join our district for the start of the second semester in January after they complete their student teaching.
“It's nice to know that there are still those young students who value education, who want to come into the field and do what's best for kids and are just excited to be here and learn from everyone around them,” said Lisa Moody, a Jefferson Elementary special education teacher.

Omaha Public Schools is a leader in finding innovative ways to recruit and retain qualified teachers amid a national shortage. Our district has implemented pipeline programs that help train future educators. In January, Omaha Public Schools also announced a stipend of $9,000 per semester to attract student teachers. Our district was the first in the state to do so. Christensen said that extra support played a role in her choice to join our district.
“It was a big reason why I chose Omaha Public Schools as my top school,” she said. “When you are student teaching, it’s like having a full-time job. You’re here 40 hours plus a week.”
More than 100 student teachers joined Omaha Public Schools this fall, nearly three times more than in previous years. Once they begin, staff and district leaders work to ensure they have access to the resources they need to become successful educators.
“The student teachers that we have are a part of our school community,” said Christina Warner, Ph.D., principal at Franklin Elementary. “It's a learning experience of how can we support them and lean on them and then have them lean on us.”
Christensen is scheduled to start full-time at Prairie Wind Elementary in January. She is excited to begin her career and grateful for the experience gained at Jefferson Elementary.