The state of Kentucky’s leadership recently made national headlines for its friction with teachers. But politics aside, a local education-focused nonprofit says it’s receiving more applications than ever, “despite the noise.”

Louisville-based Teach Kentucky recruits college graduates to become teachers in the Greater Louisville area. Participants in the program agree to a two-year commitment, in which they will teach middle and high school students in subjects they majored in, such as math and biology.

Rowan Claypool, founder and president of Teach Kentucky, joined members of the organization last week to celebrate its 15th anniversary. Since it was created in 2003, Teach Kentucky has recruited almost 300 teachers to the state. Of those teachers, 82 percent came from outside Kentucky.

The nonprofit works with 95 schools across the country to try and recruit graduates. Some of the qualifications include a 2.75 GPA and a bachelor’s degree.

But how are these students prepared to lead a classroom with just a bachelor’s degree that likely isn’t in education?

According to its website, Teach Kentucky provides a package of services to ensure support for their participants, including an eight-week “summer institute” working with students and veteran teachers, a Teach Kentucky peer subject-matter mentor a veteran teacher on staff and university and school district mentors.

Each year, Teach Kentucky typically receives 375 applications. Out of that number, they usually bring on 45 teachers.

But just because the idea sounds great on paper, it doesn’t mean it’s flawless.

“Teaching as a profession is diminishing in appeal for young people, so it’s going to get harder to attract bright, talented folks,” Claypool said.

He also added that it can be especially difficult to attract teachers from STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) areas due to international competition.

Claypool said his organization is successful because it’s one-of-a-kind. He said what sets Teach Kentucky apart from other school recruitment programs is its benefits and local focus.

“This is talent attraction and economic development in addition to supporting education,” Claypool said. “Our teachers plan their future in our community.”

Claypool has spent the past 15 years perfecting a package of incentives for potential teachers, including pre-service support, summers off and a connection to the Teach Kentucky community.

In addition, Teach Kentucky is an Americorps program, meaning teachers can receive $11,000 for post-graduate education. Currently, 91 percent of teachers in the program have completed or are completing their master’s degree. Teach Kentucky also works with students to set them up for scholarships.

Though 85 percent of participants work in Jefferson County Public Schools, Teach Kentucky also has teachers in Henry, Shelby, Oldham, Bullitt and Meade Counties.

“There isn’t another program like us,” Claypool said.