Utah Governor Gary Herbert is traveling the state to outline his Education Roadmap, a new 10 year education plan for Utah. He and his staff were in northern Utah this week.
During a surprise visit Tuesday, the governor told new teachers in the Logan School District to feel good about their decision to work with Utah's students.
"We appreciate the significant, positive role you play in people's lives, in a rising generation,” Herbert said. “So thank you for choosing teaching."
Then he listened, as elementary teacher Rosa Nunez told him why she chose to become a teacher.
"I want to be able to be in a classroom, and if I could get a child to smile, I will have succeeded,” Nunez told Gov. Herbert. “And that is why I want to be a teacher."
Teacher retention, the ability to keep qualified educators in Utah, is a concern for Utah’s governor who worries pay in his state is too low and competition from other states too high.
“A lot of times we focus on one piece of that retention issue," said Governor Herbert’s Education Advisor Tami Pyfer.
She and Herbert told those in attendance that they are working with state lawmakers and reviewing tax laws to see if additional money can be allocated to support qualified teachers.
“But, as we visit with teachers that is one component,” Pyfer said. “A comment we really hear most often is, 'We really need more time. I need time to collaborate with other teachers, I need more time in the school day, I need more time for professional development.’”
Pyfer taught in Utah State Univeristy's College of Education before being asked to work alongside Herbert to help create and promote his education plan.
Herbert told the group that he and his wife, Jeanette Herbert, also feel strongly about arts education. When discussing state education priorities an arts component will be used to replace the STEM acronym. Pyfer says nationwide we will see education organizations pushing for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math by using the acronym STEAM.
After meeting with new teachers, Governor Herbert toured the remodeled Logan High School and met with students at Bridgerland Applied Technology College.