Filipino transfers are solving Williston's teacher shortage

Published: Oct. 28, 2019 at 3:16 PM CDT
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Schools throughout the North Dakota are having a difficult time filling teaching positions.

Williston Public Schools District #1 is moving toward solving that problem by using a foreign exchange teacher program.

The district now has eight Filipino teachers who are quickly acclimating to American classroom culture after arriving in August; just in time for the start of the school year.

“When you’re looking at 15 teaching positions that we needed to fill, this was a great opportunity for us to have them come in and help with our teaching shortage,” said Williston Public Schools District #1 Superintendent Lori Olson.

After teaching in the Philippines for six years, Eugine Vargas applied with the exchange program to learn about how schools in the United States’ differ from what he’s used to.

“In the Philippines, yes we have resources in the classroom, but here we have more resources. The government has been helping the school and everyone to get all these resources so that kids will be able to understand and learn their lessons right away. Like. there’s Chrome Books everywhere,” said fourth grade Wilkinson teacher Eugine Vergas.

Jabhet Ralph Ladage also worked in schools in the Philippines for six years. Now he teaches third grade at Wilkinson, and one to three-year contracts will give the foreign teachers enough time to bring back some useful information to their home country.

“The education system in the United States of America is one of the most advanced in the world. I wanted to learn about that system, and when I go back to my home country, I’ll share my expertise that I learned here,” said Ladage.

Teachers in the Philippines educate more than 50 students in a single classroom. Ladage and the other transfer teachers are enjoying being able to get to know their Williston students better because of the smaller class sizes in America.

Both Eugine and Jabhet said when their contracts are up, they’d love to come back and teach in Williston again someday, even though it’s a lot colder than the tropical temperatures they’re used to.