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TEACH is recruiting the next generation of diverse teachers

12 April, 2023



  • Current number of websites: Eight
  • Average ticket response time: 16 minutes
  • Total deployments: 1,032
  • Deployment success rate: 98.7%
  • Friday deployments: 14.5%

TEACH, a national non-profit organization founded in 2015 by the U.S. Department of Education, works with states and metropolitan areas to develop sustainable teacher talent pipelines to ensure K-12 students have the diverse, high-quality teachers they deserve.

According to TEACH’s own research, many Americans are open to the idea of teaching. But they may not choose that career path due to misperceptions about the job and barriers they encounter as they apply. 

“Obviously, education is one of the foremost important aspects of any society,” says David Dowell, TEACH’s Web Development Lead. "States and districts across the country are facing some of the most severe teacher shortages in history at a time when students need excellent, diverse teachers more than ever. TEACH works every day to bridge that gap."

TEACH’s work focuses on identifying, cultivating, and supporting teaching candidates to apply to an educator preparation program, setting them on the path to leading their own classroom. To make that possible, TEACH works to find candidates and show them what a teaching career can offer. TEACH then guides those candidates through the process of selecting and applying to a teaching program. 

“We want people to understand how much the teaching profession has to offer and how they can get their credentials,” David continues. “What makes a good teacher? How much does the profession pay? What are the requirements? We're trying to both address misconceptions about the profession and help people understand how to pursue it to grow the pipeline of future educators.”

A set of online recruitment tools in need of constant upgrades 

TEACH uses an array of recruitment methods and practices to recruit possible teachers, including a tech-forward approach in the shape of a Digital Recruitment Platform (DRP), a set of online tools that help states identify, cultivate, and support tens of thousands of prospective teachers at a time. Those tools include:

  • Tech for candidate outreach (such as email, social media, text messaging)

  • A web portal that acts as a “one-stop shop” for getting into the teaching profession

  • A customer relationship management database 

  • User analytics

TEACH’s DRP requires constant improvements to ensure the best online tools are available to build interest in teaching and to make the process of selecting a teaching program as frictionless as possible. It also needs a sustainable deployment process that works, using different frameworks configurable for both general and partner-specific models. And not only that, TEACH needs the right infrastructure to build on so it can grow and manage an increasing number of regional websites dedicated to each state or municipality. 

Since the beginning almost a decade ago, TEACH has sustained a partnership with a PaaS that can handle the DevOps side of maintaining its technology—an ally that can provide the necessary architecture to maintain the DRP, the scalability to expand nationwide, the security and compliance to protect confidential information, and alignment with the mission to raise awareness of teaching’s importance. 

For TEACH, only one supplier made sense. 

Platform.sh was TEACH’s choice from the start

Since TEACH partners with the public education system in each state, it was imperative to find a technology partner that doesn’t see the organization as another number, but as a personalized client. 

“Whenever we interact with Platform.sh, they always treat us with respect and give us whatever DevOps support we need, when we need it,” David explains. “We just love the customer and service support. Every single ticket we've ever put in has had a good turnaround response. And I would say, like, 90%-plus of the time, they’re providing as much information as possible, above and beyond, to help us diagnose whatever we’re dealing with at the time.”

The ease of templating, environment deployment, and simple functionality has also enabled TEACH to reach its goals. 

“Architecture-wise, there’s Drupal templating support on the back end, with a pretty slick system for being able to hierarchically orient and configure environments for deployment,” David continues. “And being able to push the different environments from staging to production to live and then also to sync the databases pulling backwards—a lot of that is just one-click push button functionality. That's really helpful.”

Expanding into new regions while keeping data safe 

TEACH aims to expand into every state, so scalability has been top of mind for TEACH Senior Project Manager Andrew Das.

“We're always trying to grow our structure,” Andrew adds. “Each new region requires us to open up a new website. That requires a partner that will scale with us as well. We have partners from seven states working with us, plus a national site. That’s eight sites on Drupal right now. And we’re hoping to expand and grow into different markets and regions each year.”

Another important factor for a non-profit in the education sector is adhering to the best security and compliance practices, primarily the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records.  

“That's very important, how we treat our users’ data security,” Andrew continues. “We take data security very seriously, similar to how medical companies are HIPAA compliant. Consequently, it’s important that Platform.sh can localize data and keep it secure depending on where someone is located around the world.”

Easy, breezy, educational

Working with Platform.sh has also made onboarding developers easier for TEACH. 

“With Platform.sh, developers can get onboarded pretty quickly. That was a major factor in our decision,” Andrew says. “You don’t have to worry about getting additional onboarding for any dev that comes here. They can come here, and they know they can use the same commands they usually use.”

But their favorite part of the nearly decade long relationship? 

“I was in DrupalCon last year and they were just overwhelmingly positive, friendly, helpful—any and all questions about how databases are handled or set up, or configuration options within the system, the answer to all those questions came really easily,” David says. “And I think, for me, that's the number one thing that you're looking for with a managed host now. That level of personal attention and support. If you don't have to go through a three-tier system of automated responses to set up, then have someone respond to you—that's really key and I think Platform.sh has that human connection and level of support.”

And that level of support continues to aid TEACH in its mission to support student learning. 

“Teaching is a challenging and rewarding career,” Andrew explains. “You can be like a hero, and shape the next generation. So we're trying to build that message using technology. We want people to consider teaching as their next profession, and we’re working to make it easier to accomplish. ”

“We’re trying to be the bridge,” David adds. “To connect people from thinking of teaching as an idealistic thing, something amorphous, into a real opportunity.”

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