Local News

Teaching Shortage Forces School Districts To Work Harder To Get New Employees

Posted August 9, 2001

— School administrators are learning new ways to lure teachers into the classroom, but recruiting teachers is only one half of the shortage problem. Keeping teachers in classrooms once they get there is the other half, particularly special education, science and math teachers. Business lures them away with incentives, and now schools are developing some impressive packages to retain them.

Armed with a secondary math degree, Jeremiah Johnson was, and still is, hotly recruited by schools offering deals.

Johnson signed on early with Wilson County Schools---teaching summer school and now algebra at Beddingfield High. Assistant Superintendent Steve Thornton was happy to snag him, and aims to keep him.

"That one on one interaction with teachers seems to help us a lot," said Thornton.

Principals are urged to support teachers at all levels of training. Johnson was sold when a principal offered the magic words when helping Jeremiah review a summer school student's shaky grades.

"He said 'I'll back you up 100 percent,' and to hear a principal say that to me, a first year teacher, I was like, yes! That's what I wanted to hear," said Johnson.

Another factor made Johnson pick Wilson County: the price of a master's degree. Moore County Schools pays that, too.

Schools are also encouraging teachers to apply for national board certification, providing training and mentoring programs for new teachers. Johnson says that sort of thing will keep him in a Wilson classroom.

And teachers would not turn down pay raises, either. One of the reasons teachers leave, especially men, is the low pay. But many young teachers say that if you treat them as professionals, and give them leadership and academic growth opportunities, they will stay. Many school districts have learned this lesson and are paying a lot of attention to such things as they try to retain employees.

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