North Hardin High School could offer a Japanese course during the next school year if student interest is high enough.
Principal Tanya Corder said the school currently offers German and Spanish but it has yet to hire a second Spanish teacher.
“We’re just trying to think outside of the box right now on some of our positions that are harder to fill,” she said, noting the school still will offer German and Spanish next year.
Corder said the school chose Japanese over other languages because a teacher at the school is close to finishing her certification in Japanese and offered to teach the class.
Depending on student interest, the teacher could teach six to 12 classes a school year. Corder said there was not a “magic number” but around 180 students would be ideal. A class size is between 28 and 32 students.
“If there’s only 15 kids interested, that’s not going to really benefit us because she would only be able to teach one section of Japanese,” Corder said. “And we’re not really cutting into our 200 kids who are asking for Spanish.”
Corder said if the school cannot hire a Spanish teacher and there is a lack of interest in the Japanese course, the school would allow students to take Spanish courses online using Apex, an online educational software. A certified teacher still would be needed in the classroom but would not need a Spanish certification.
“I don’t think it’s ideal,” Corder said. “I think it’s always best to have a physical teacher in front of you instructing, but there would be a teacher in the room with the computer teaching them, so that’s another option we have.”
A foreign language is not needed to graduate high school in Kentucky, but numerous colleges recommend or require a foreign language for entry, including Western Kentucky University and the University of Kentucky.
Hardin County Schools is not the only school district that has had trouble finding teachers. Officials from West Point Independent and Elizabethtown Independent have presented similar concerns. Last month, Kentucky Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis said the Kentucky Department of Education will start a campaign to recruit more teachers, according to Kentucky Teacher, a department of education publication. A search on the Kentucky Department of Education website indicated there were nearly 3,000 vacant teaching positions in the state as of Monday morning.
Parents who have children interested in taking Japanese this upcoming school year can call the school at 270-351-3167. The student’s first and last name are needed as well as a statement indicating the student is interested. The deadline to inform the school is Friday.