Wanted: Teachers - Part I

That’s especially true in Florida, with mandates like smaller class sizes taking affect.

Experts predict next year, there will be twice as many teaching positions as there are applicants in the state of Florida, but there are students eager to fill the void.

Pouring over pictures of past graduates, Erin Downing and Kristina Fox look for a glimpse of what the future holds for them.

Erin Downing, a Florida State University Elementary Education graduate, says, "As far as I remember I've always wanted to teach, maybe in middle school strongest. I've always enjoyed being around children and teaching seemed like the natural choice."

Erin and Kristina are just two of the more than 400 education majors marking the milestone from college student to alumni, a journey that promotes passion and provokes fear.

Kristina Fox, an FSU graduate in Education, says, "Real fear of getting a job, and finding a school that I really click with, finding a place where I can feel at home."

Finding a home shouldn't be a problem. Education experts estimate 20,000 new teaching jobs to open up in sunshine state schools this year, a void Florida universities can't fill, turning out just 5-to 6 thousand education graduates.

Richard C. Kunkel, a professor and dean in the FSU College of Education: "Special needs kids need more elementary teacher's with emphasis on reading."

Despite the growing emphasis on education, like holding schools accountable, smaller class sizes, and boosting teacher pay, it hasn't affected the profession's popularity.
Erin Downing says, "I knew the pay wasn't something I'd be concerned with."

Before taking their spots at the head of the class, today's teachers are getting more experience under their belt.

Yet, there is one thing college can't prepare them for - overcoming the first day jitters.

"First day will be the scariest. (I) haven't really experienced, making first impressions."

Fresh out of college, a teacher in Leon County makes $28,100.

At a Thomasville city school, that same teacher would make more than $30,000.

It's that competitive pay we will look at tomorrow in part two.