By Tom Mustin
HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. (CBS4)– Colorado teachers are becoming an endangered species. Low pay and challenging schools are shrinking the teacher pool.
Now a Douglas County teacher has come up with a scholarship plan to encourage the next generation of teachers to continue in the field of education.
Inside Mountain Vista High School in Highlands Ranch, journalism teacher Mark Newton is fulfilling his dream.
“This is the greatest job in the world,” Newton told CBS4’s Tom Mustin.
The 32-year teaching veteran has come up with a revolutionary scholarship plan, to encourage Vista students to follow his passion.
“I just started thinking, what could we do to pay it forward for our profession.”
Under his plan, all 170 teachers and staff will give $1 for every year they’ve been in the field of education.
The money, which will total thousands of dollars, will fund partial college scholarships for senior students like Rachael Goldstein and Aspen Frisch.
“People have told me to go into nursing for the paycheck or something along those lines, but I’ve always had this passion, and know this was meant for me and this is something i’ll always love,” said Goldstein.
Frish agrees, “I look forward to it so much. I’m so excited to have my own classroom someday. It just makes me so excited for the future.”
A recent study found that 5,500 Colorado teachers will retire this year. Only about 2,000 state college graduates will earn a teaching license.
Principal Mike Weaver says filling that pipeline is essential. He gave the thumbs up to the new scholarship, even though it’ll cost him $30.
“I don’t think there’s anything better we can do to encourage great kids to have a meaningful impact on our communities,” said Weaver.
Morgan Miller has worked with children with disabilities since she was 10 years old. She’s hoping the scholarship money will help her continue in the teaching field.
“It’s just so fulfilling for me. Just the smiles on all their faces. It’s just important,” said Miller.
It’s a future fueled by the passion of a Douglas County teacher, looking to give back.
“We need great teachers so why wouldn’t we want to encourage our best and brightest to be teachers? This was just a small way to encourage that,” says Newton.
The first batch of scholarship students will be selected by a panel of teachers.
The exact amount of scholarship money has not yet been tabulated.