WAIANAE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Waianae High School began this year 9 teachers short of what it needs to teach its 1,850 students. The instructor shortage is a chronic problem. So Waianae's trying something new. It's teaching students the first steps to becoming teachers.
"We decided, you know what, we got smart kids. Let's grow our own teachers. That's what we're doing," principal Disa Hauge said.
This is the first year for Waianae's Teaching Academy.
"They're learning how to do lesson plans. They're learning to present. They're learning how to create relationships to the other students and other personnel in the school," Teaching Academy teacher Leann Manuel said.
The students are also learning that public schools on the leeward coast need teachers to stay, not teacher turnover.
"I want to come back to my community, mostly prefer being Waianae Elementary. And I want to specifically teach first graders," Hope Iokia said.
"We understand own community," Lokahi Gomes-Kahanu said. "We understand the kids here, how they act. So it'll be easier for us to teach."
HSTA president Corey Rosenlee said the state's teacher shortage can be solved.
"We can solve this crisis in Hawaii of not having enough teachers by treating and paying our teachers like professionals," he said.
Waianae is trying to solve its shortage from the inside. Thirty students are enrolled in the the Teaching Academy.
"If our kids are connected to their own place where they live, and they stay, we will stabilize our teaching staff over the next 10 years," Hauge said.