Pine Belt schools struggle to find upper level teachers

School is back in session, but some districts still search for teachers to fill the classrooms.
Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 10:35 PM CDT
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PINE BELT, Miss. (WDAM) - School is back in session, but some districts still search for teachers to fill the classrooms.

Many districts across the Pine Belt have difficulty finding teachers to teach higher-level courses, including chemistry and geometry.

“We are facing in this county a shortage of teachers in mathematics,” said Marion County Superintendent Carl Michael Day. “That is the hardest one to find teachers that’re are certified in. Talking to other superintendents, we’re all experiencing the same thing trying to find upper qualified math, upper math and upper science [teachers].”

In some cases, districts have had to use drastic measures to fill classrooms.

“We’ve even had to apply for emergency or expert license in a couple of cases,” said Day.

Teachers have many reasons why they may leave the profession, but one common one seems to go often overlooked.

“We see people who leave the profession not because of money, which is often what you’ll hear, but they leave the profession because they want to be respected within their career,” said Noal Cochran, Southern Miss Associate Dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences.

On the other hand, many teachers can find the positives in the field and stick with it through the rough times.

“As a teacher, every year, you get to teach between 25 to 150 kids that are going to run the world,” said Donielle Stephens, USM’s Director of Educational Field. “Nobody just wakes up with a knowledge of how to be a car mechanic or how to be a doctor or how to manage money, but thank goodness there are teachers that are teaching these skills so that when we have these future kids run our future world, they’re prepared.”

Superintendent Day also said some teachers have pushed off their retirement date due to the teacher pay raise.

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