Topeka, Kan. - Washburn University is celebrating some of the state’s most sought-after recruits during a Student Teacher Celebration at 4:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 5 in the Bradbury Thompson Alumni Center at 1701 SW Jewell Ave.

    The event honors 24 Washburn University students who were student teachers in the fall and will graduate later this month. Finding available teaching positions is not a challenge for these graduates. Dr. Cherry Steffen, chair of the department of education, says the teacher shortage in Kansas and nationwide is very real.

    “As of this fall, Kansas reported approximately 1,600 vacancies in the teaching profession. Unlike previous years, this shortage is showing up at almost every grade level (elementary, middle and high school) as well as every content area,” Steffen said. “Our teacher interview days were full to capacity with districts from both in-state and out-of-state looking to hire our graduates.”

    Steffen says she receives calls or emails almost every week from school districts looking to fill open positions. In addition, districts are actively recruiting student teachers and hoping to retain them on a permanent basis. Financial incentives are sometimes offered to sweeten the deal.

    Robyn Dudney is in charge of field placements for Washburn education majors. She said it is important to celebrate these student teachers with their mentors, family and friends. Recognizing the districts that partner with Washburn also is part of the event. While more job opportunities are available to these students, more challenges await them, as well.

    “Research has shown that children are different compared to those who attended school pre-Covid,” Dudney said. “Children are having to readjust to being in the classroom. At Washburn, we prepare our students for that reality.”

    Besides recognizing all 24 future educators at the event, several awards will be given including an outstanding student teacher award, K-6 Julia Etta Parks Award and the Dr. Donovan Cook Award. Dr. Steffen will close with a charge to the soon-to-be graduates.

    “Washburn University has a great reputation for producing teachers. Even before the shortage became so pronounced, our teacher candidates always found positions,” Steffen said. “Currently, the vast majority of our student teachers have jobs secured even before they graduate.

    “We have great partnerships with the surrounding school districts. Among the most gratifying part of my job is placing some of our current student teachers with teachers who are graduates of our program. I enjoy seeing what they have become and know that a portion of their success is a result of our faculty’s work in preparing them for the future.”

    Washburn University’s student teachers for Fall 2022 are: MaryAna Barnes, Ashley Blenden, Cole Bottom, Autumn Carter, Karla Hickel, EmmaRae Hubener, Katie Jarvis, Kyle Kersten, Isabelle Luckman, Kevin Neal, Katie Roberts, Mary Smith, Hannah Beemer, Paul Borcherding, Shannon Byrne, Abigail Gaschen, Emma Holthaus, Julia Hutcheson, Elijah Keith, Shelby Kutzke, Brittany Meckler, Sarah Reineke, Lauryn Scott and Katie Walker.


     Founded in 1865, Washburn University is a public institution with more than 6,000 students involved in more than 200 academic programs. Washburn’s programs lead to certification, associate, bachelor, master's degree or doctor of nursing practice and juris doctor degrees.  The programs are offered through Washburn’s six primary academic units – the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Applied Studies, the School of Business, the School of Nursing, the School of Law and the Washburn Institute of Technology (Washburn Tech).

    All programs are offered on either the 160-acre residential campus in the heart of Topeka, Kan., at Washburn Tech’s campus on Topeka’s west side or in the east Topeka facility. Washburn University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association and many of the individual programs have additional accreditations.

    Washburn is ranked best public regional university in Kansas and 14th best public regional university by U.S. News and World Report 2022-2023.

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