A PHOTOGRAPH ON PAGE 3 OF SUNDAY'S EXTRA WITH AN ARTICLE ABOUT GOV. PARRIS N. GLENDENING VISITING A CHARLES COUNTY FUTURE EDUCATORS OF AMERICA CONFERENCE LAST THURSDAY WAS NOT TAKEN AT THAT EVENT. THE PHOTO OF GLENDENING WITH CHOPTICON HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS WAS FROM A VISIT BY THE GOVERNOR TO ST. MARY'S COUNTY ON MAY 14. (PUBLISHED 06/03/99)

Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) visited with Charles County public school students Thursday afternoon and urged them to pursue a career in teaching, saying that qualified instructors are in short supply these days.

Glendening, a former college professor, said teaching is "a job where you can make a huge difference." And if that was not enticement enough for his student listeners, he promised that the state will pay for their college education if they become teachers.

The governor spoke at a day-long conference of the county's chapter of the Future Educators of America (FEA), a student organization for aspiring teachers. More than 250 middle and high school students attended the workshop at the Middleton Hall Conference Center in Waldorf.

"For any one of you who really, truly wants to go into teaching, you can do it," Glendening said, taking the opportunity to promote his new teacher scholarship program.

On Thursday morning, the governor signed into law a bill that will award up to $3,000 annually in college scholarships to students preparing for teaching careers. To qualify for the money, students must maintain at least a B average and agree to teach in Maryland one year for each year they receive the award.

Glendening reminded students that Maryland is facing a critical teacher shortage in coming years. "We need you in our classrooms," he said, pointing out that Maryland schools must hire 11,000 new teachers next year. The state's colleges graduate fewer than half that many teachers each year.

In addition, more than half of Maryland's 49,000 teachers will be eligible for retirement by 2002, the governor said. At the same time, Maryland educators are dealing with growing school enrollments and trying to reduce class sizes.

Despite this potentially dire situation in the state's classrooms, there was a rah-rah atmosphere at the conference.

"These are important young people," said state Sen. Thomas McLain Middleton (D-Charles). "We need to do everything we can in government to encourage students to pursue a career in teaching."

Kelly Ayers, an eighth-grader at Benjamin Stoddert Middle School in Waldorf, said she felt honored by the governor's visit. "It was really great to have him. It made us feel special that he choose to come to Charles County," she said.

Kelly, who wants to become a math teacher, joined her school's FEA club last fall and has participated in activities ranging from shadowing a teacher on the job to community service. "I really like it because it shows what it's like to really be a teacher," she said.

Her mother agreed that her daughter's membership in FEA has been valuable. "It's made her even more determined that this is what she wants to do," Louise Ayers said. "She has a lot of great role models."

Every middle and high school in Charles County today operates an FEA club. There are 256 student members countywide, according to Minnie Reynolds, the county coordinator. Four years ago, only one high school had a club, with about 10 members total.

"We have a real interest in growing our own," said Reynolds, explaining the school system's renewed emphasis on FEA.

Shari Bradley, the national coordinator for FEA who attended Thursday's conference, praised Charles school officials for their commitment to operate -- and fund -- a quality organization that makes teacher recruitment its top priority.

Bradley also spoke to students at the conference, as did other dignitaries including U.S. Deputy Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. The conference also featured workshops on topics such as peer mediation and working with disabled students.

CAPTION: Gov. Parris Glendening on Thursday greets Chopticon High School students including, from left, Jamar Nolan, Bettina Fowler and Tommy Pilkerton. Below, he talks with Minnie Reynolds, Charles County coordinator for the Future Educators of America, at the FEA conference in Waldorf.