Teachers gear up for new school year amid staffing shortages

Published: Aug. 15, 2022 at 7:34 PM EDT
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JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Across the country, school systems are experiencing a shortage of teachers.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are at least 280,000 fewer public school teachers across the nation than there were before the pandemic.

With just two weeks ahead of the school year, this is an impact being felt in Eastern Carolina.

“I’ve been doing this for going on 33 years now and this has been one of the more challenging years of finding teachers,” Brent Anderson, Onslow County Schools chief communication officer said.

Laura Wilson, a 14-year teacher, said she is picking up reading this year instead of science and social studies.

Onslow County Schools is the 11th largest school district in the state.

Craven County School Superintendent Dr. Wendy Miller says the school system sits with 128 certified teaching positions still vacant, but that they still plan to have a normal first day of school despite the hurdles of being short-staffed.

“Folks just aren’t choosing the career of teaching anymore and that’s unfortunate because I believe that’s one of the best ways you can give back to your community,” Miller said. “We’re going to have regular schedules and it may be the staff in the building or used creatively, we’re going to have substitutes.”

Despite the challenges ahead for teachers like Wilson, she says she is prepared to ride out the teacher shortage and that being able to be back in in-person classes with the kids is a big reason why.

“We know what needs to be done and we do it; and we do it willingly, because I saw what it was like last year for our kids to come back,” Wilson said. “So, to create as normal of a year for them and to create that same environment where they walk in the door and they don’t feel our stresses, I think that’s what we’re going to do.”

Pitt County Schools has at least 200 job vacancies according to its official school website. The school system says it will be actively hiring up until the first day of school on Aug. 29th.

Lenoir County Schools staff members say they are actively hiring to fill 33 vacant teacher jobs over the next two weeks.

The Craven County school board says it is currently discussing retention bonuses for tenured teachers at the end of the school year.

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