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Skilled to Work: University of North Alabama addresses national teacher shortage

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UNA student, Shanise Allen

Shanise Allen, senior at UNA studying elementary education

The University of North Alabama represented itself as a teachers college in 1872.

More than a hundred years have passed, and the school still reigns as a top university for its College of Education.

In this week's "Skilled to Work," WAAY 31 visits UNA, where the education program is combating a nationwide teachers shortage.

Senior Shanice Allen is studying elementary education. She's driven to get into schools and teach.

"I know I will be able to get into a school wherever I want," said Allen, "(and) bring all that I've learned from UNA to that school."

Despite the shortage, UNA said they're experiencing growth in several teacher education programs.

However, even with UNA's growth, it's hard to keep up with the demand in school systems, according to Katie Kinney, dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences.

"I get calls every day," said Kinney. "'Hey, can you help me? I've got this opening. I've got this opening.'"

Kinney said UNA has a great relationship with local schools and is able to respond to many of their needs.

Allen said she's wanted to pursue education ever since she was a child.

"Ever since I was small — like, I will literally set up my dolls, and I'm teaching them as if they were real people," said Allen.

Allen can practice all that she's learned in the classroom, right on campus, at the Kilby Laboratory School.

"Working with kids, it's fun, and I enjoy that, and it's not the same schedule every day," said Allen.

Kilby Laboratory School doubles as an elementary school for kids in the area.

"We have a very strong commitment to the concept of theory to practice, so we prepare our candidates in the classroom with all the knowledge they need," said Kinney.

In a few months, Allen will be known as Ms. Allen. Before entering a classroom, Allen said, she's aiming to get her masters in elementary education.

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