LEWISTON — Superintendent Jake Langlais proposed an apprenticeship program as an alternate method of certifying teachers to mitigate state’s growing educator shortage at the School Committee meeting Monday.

Superintendent of Lewiston Public Schools Jake Langlais, seen in June 2022, is proposing an apprenticeship program as an alternate method of certifying teachers to mitigate state’s growing educator shortage. Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald file

Currently, the Lewiston school district has more than 30 teacher openings and over 30 education positions filled by people with emergency or conditional certifications.

As is, there are some days where Lewiston schools are on the brink of closure due to these shortages, he said. Without creative solutions, he anticipates the problem growing worse, even as soon as this fall.

“I’m taking it upon myself to represent the community in every capacity that I can to say that we have an absolute crisis on our hands,” Langlais said.

Just Monday, the middle school was short teachers in five teams due to illness. These classes had to be merged with others during the day.

“If we don’t have adults in our schools, we will have to close,” Langlais said. “Right now, Plan B is we close our schools.”


In recent years, school districts across the state and country have struggled to hire enough teachers to fill open positions. Shortages have been particularly acute in the Lewiston school district, the second largest in the state.

“Education is at an all-time shortage nationwide,” he wrote in a memo. “The university systems do not have many students in the pipeline for education. The certification pathways for education are very cumbersome, they’re very traditional and they require you to just keep going to school.”

Emergency certifications and conditional certifications allow people who hold four-year degrees to teach in schools for a limited time without a teaching certificate. While teaching, these professionals must also take classes toward certification.

Langlais said there has been discussion on the state level of ending the emergency and conditional certification programs this year, a move he said would double the number of open positions.

He proposes creating a five-year on-the-job training program which would ultimately lead to certifications. Such a program could be open to anyone: those who have college degrees in a different field or those who never received a degree.

Participants in the program would be mentored by other teachers as they work toward earning a bachelor’s degree and teaching certification.


“If you give me an adult that wants to be in a classroom and work with kids, I’ll take them all day long,” Langlais said. “We can teach them the math, we can teach them the curriculum pieces and how to deliver it. We can teach them assessment and how to enter a grade. You can’t teach adults (to) want to be there and engage our kids.”

In order to be implemented, such a program would need to be approved either in the Maine Legislature or by the Maine Board of Education, he said. If approved, the pathway would be open to all school districts, not just Lewiston.

Langlais said administrators have shared their concerns and offered ideas for solutions with the Maine Department of Education, the Maine State Board of Education, superintendents groups and elected officials.

While this proposal may help the district, Lewiston Education Association President Jaye Rich said the cons outweigh the benefits.

“This type of certification program is not a long term fix for an ongoing issue in our district: turnover,” she said.

She said the district lost a large number of teachers last year due to issues including pay, benefits and lack of support staff.

“None of these issues are being addressed with this plan. If implemented, this plan would take some of our most valued support staff without the means to replace them,” adding that this proposal was an easier, cheaper way to employ unqualified staff.

A survey of 75 union members found 67 percent were against the proposal as presented and 33 percent were in favor of it. Langlais said there are nearly 600 educators in the district.

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