School system finds ways to address teacher shortage
ROCKINGHAM — Teacher shortages are being reported statewide in North Carolina, with increased demand in rural counties.
The tension is felt locally. Last week, the Anson County School Board called a special meeting to address the issue. Richmond County schools are also working to find ways to address the teacher shortage.
“We have spaces available and there are certainly some that need to be processed,” said Dr. Julian Carter, associate superintendent of human resources for RCS.
On the RCS notice board, there are currently approximately 13 teaching positions available as of Friday, November 12. Including various janitorial, teaching assistant, school resource and transportation positions, in total there are 46 positions available.
Carter said some of those vacancies are still available each year to accommodate retirements and various other issues that arise. Last year around this time, Carter said there were about 4-6 teaching positions open.
“We are working diligently to work with all colleges in our region and all colleges in North Carolina, as well as out-of-state universities. [to connect with graduating teachers]said Carter, adding that the school system reflects employment needs across the state.
Demand from rural counties
“Rural areas tend to be a little harder to bring people in,” Carter explained. “Young people will always need social things to do. That said, children who come from rural areas tend to work in rural areas. We try to recruit in areas with high population in rural areas.
RCS has been recruiting heavily in northern states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio and parts of New York for years. Carter estimated that there were about 40 people working for RCS who hailed from Pennsylvania.
Carter said teaching jobs can be hard to come by for college graduates from northern states. These positions often require years of experience, which young teachers can acquire by working 3 to 4 years in a less competitive field. Carter said all of their hires in the northern states have been great to work with.
“The world has changed a lot in the last year,” Carter said, adding that there has been an “incredible” number of people who have expressed an interest in working for RCS remotely from another state, even if it is not. is not an option allowed by RCS. “I’m very interested to see what it’s going to look like in March, April – our big recruiting months.”
Support young teachers
Dr. Tesha Isler, Beginning Teacher Coordinator for RCS, said she emphasizes the strength of their Beginning Teacher Support Program and one-on-one mentoring for each teacher in their recruitment process.
Academic coaches at each school are support staff who have content-specific knowledge and implement professional learning communities (PLCs). Isler said these coaches help teachers plan and solve problems and can be a resource for first-grade teachers.
Isler gives direct access to interested teachers by giving them her personal phone number, which she says can be a major selling point for some people.
“We want to hire the best for our kids and our community,” Carter said. “Not only are we recruiting people, but we are now focusing on retention [staff].”
The Growing Our Own Teachers initiative was started not only to increase interest in education, but also to address the teacher shortage in North Carolina. Richmond Community College has previously partnered with the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, Lees-McRae College, and Gardner-Webb University to promote higher education and stronger teaching opportunities.
Isler said the student teacher program at Richmond Senior High School has the exact same goal, which helps develop students who want to become teachers.
Their coordinator, Suzanne Hudson, recently reached out to Ninth Grade Academy to help spark the interest of these students early in their high school careers.
“We want to continue to grow those students who want to be teachers and have something in place for them to come back,” Isler said.
For those who may have graduated from teaching cadets and may be considering returning to Richmond County to teach, Isler said they are working on care packages to gauge interest.
“We really want to keep those connections with the students who graduated from Richmond Senior High,” Isler said.
Manage the shortage
Carter said they are dealing with teacher shortages in various ways at this point.
At the middle school level, classes are often combined, or one teacher will teach two different subjects. Carter said both of these options are common regardless of year. At the elementary school level, stricter mandates are in place, which can limit the number of students who can be in a class, especially in grades K-3.
Carter said some teaching assistants with 20 to 25 years of experience, who are working to complete their education, have been able to replace them when needed.
“They have as much experience as many teachers in our district,” Carter said. “But, we are very particular about it.”
Currently, there is only one student-teacher in the county – at East Rockingham Elementary School. The school system actively recruits student teachers and full-time teachers at various job fairs. Isler and Carter said they have been more aggressive this year in seeking out future teachers of all kinds.
“Once you find someone to teach you, you have a very good chance of hiring them,” Carter said.
Carter encouraged anyone with family or friends looking for a job opportunity to consider joining RCS.
Interested candidates can apply on the RCS job site by going to https://nc.teachermatch.org, but Carter said it’s best to personally call someone from HR to add a personal login in. going to https://www.richmond. k12.nc.us/District/Department/2-Human-Resources. This year, an open TA position had 74 applicants, so Carter said a phone call better connects someone to a position.
“We’re a small community, but what’s great is that we all work together,” Carter said. “One of the things we have is this school system, and it’s a good school system because we care and we all work hard to make it that way.”
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Contact Matthew Sasser at 910-817-2671 or [email protected]