LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Your child's education starts at home, but it is the teacher who really makes the difference.
Every year, Clark County School District starts the school year short hundreds of educators. That's why legislators set aside scholarship money to inspire change.
There is money available right now if you've thought about a career in the classroom.
Julie Anderson got a full ride to WGU Nevada, removing a financial barrier when she wanted to become a teacher.
"I am glad I switched professions. As before it wasn't a good fit. I didn't enjoy going to the job every day. This time it's rewarding, and I feel accomplished when I leave," Anderson said.
Right now, scholarship money is available to 15 students who want to enter WGU Nevada's 4-year teaching college.
"We need more educators. One of the reasons it's so important to us is because the strength of any community can be summed up by the quality of its teacher force," Chancellor Spencer Stewart said.
Across the nation, the number of students who say they will major in education has reached it's lowest point in 45 years.
In a 2016 national survey of first-year college students, just 4.2 percent intended to major in education. That compared to 11 percent in 2000.
Jason Dietrich is the Nevada Department of Education Deputy Superintendent. He says the teacher shortage isn't going to a quick fix.
"It's not that it's not a fulfilling career. If you ask any educator, they are fulfilled. I'd have to look at it financially. Teachers are not paid in their profession what other professions are paid," said Dietrich.
To try and entice more people into teaching, legislators set aside funding for the Teach Nevada Scholarship program.
The money covers tuition and a financial bonus after five years of teaching in our state. WGU Nevada is looking to give out 15 full rides.
This is just one tactic, Stewart says, to encourage people to consider and succeed in the teaching profession and Dietrich agrees.
"It's a win-win. It's bringing people into college and the education profession. So it's a win-win all the way around," Dietrich said.
This is so, especially for the students. As Julie says, her new career is incredibly rewarding.
"Sometimes you think this kid is never going to get it. And that one day they're like, 'I get it! I get it!' and we have a party, and we're so excited and keep that momentum going," Anderson said,
WGU Nevada is looking for anyone who wants to teach -- could be a recent high school graduate or a veteran looking for a second career.
The $18,000 scholarship covers the entire four-year program.
Since WGU is an online school, many students finish in less than four years.
But you need to apply right away! The priority deadline is the end of January.