How to build a teacher: Montana programs work to combat longstanding educator shortages issue

Skylar Rispens

University of Montana student Samantha May takes the teacher shortage in Montana personally.

She grew up on the Hi-Line in Joplin and experienced its impacts firsthand.

Music teachers churned through the school year after year. When the district hit a dead end for hiring replacements, they turned to community members to help keep the program alive. In high school science, she spent a semester learning online and the rest of the year with a long-term substitute who had no science background.

The inconsistency in science left long-term impacts on her education, she said, resulting in low test scores on science portions of standardized tests and other challenges as she navigated college courses.

That’s why she’s taking matters into her own hands.

She wants to be the source of support and consistency in an area of the state that experiences high staff turnover and limited resources for mental health support.

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May is currently a psychology student at UM and on track to become a school counselor on the Hi-Line after completing her master’s degree.

“If there’s anything that I could do to play a part and go back to

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