KEWASKUM -- This Labor Day, there is a major shortage of educators to teach Wisconsin's next generation. Especially in rural schools.
We went to Kewaskum to see how a career pathway program is getting many of their high schoolers interested in the field.
Out of 580 who are at the high school, about 100 are in the teacher, counselor, or social worker school-to-work program. That's nearly 20-percent of the high school's current student body.
This includes Kewaskum High School senior Keira Quinn and junior Annah Ogi, who cannot wait to pursue their teaching degrees, "Oh my goodness, I literally have Pinterest boards on what I'm going to do!" said Annah, adding, "It is the moment to have a blank canvas and make it your own."
"Would you want to become a rural school teacher once you graduate from college in the future, with a teaching degree?" TMJ4 News' Julia Fello asked Keira Quinn. She answered, "That's exactly where I wanna go. I wanna be in a smaller community like this."
"I would!" Ogi said to the same question. She added, "You have better teacher/student relationships with them and have more one one-on-one teaching, and fewer crowds."
Both are getting that experience, by partnering with the Boys & Girls Club of Washington County. There they get paid, hands-on experience.
The students work at the Kewaskum, Hartford and West Bend locations.
"Some of those young kids they need role models," said Jay Fisher, Boys & Girls Club of Washington County's executive director.
We asked Kevin Pratt, Academic & Career Planning Coordinator for the Kewaskum School District what he has seen with the evolution of education in Wisconsin. He said, "I think absolutely Act 10 had something that played a role in that whole thing discouraging. Because I think the premise is, that teachers make no money, and it doesn't have the notoriety the noble profession that it used to have. I want us to get it back! Cause there's a ton of amazing people who work in that building over there," Pratt said pointing at Kewaskum High School.
There are six fields Kewaskum high schoolers students to learn more about and pursue their passions.
Ogi and Quinn credit this program to solidifying their dreams.
"It makes me feel like I'm making a difference in the world," said Annah Ogi.
Keira Quinn said, "The way that they react, almost knocking me over hugging me, it really makes me feel happy wanting to be there and wanting to be what I'm doing for the rest of my life."
Another reason for the rural teacher shortage, may be the pay. A study by the Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance shows the starting salary is between $35,000 to $46,000. Meanwhile, the Milwaukee-metro area could offer $10,000 more in starting pay.