JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Schools across the country are feeling the impact of teacher shortages, brought to the fore by the pandemic.
According to the latest jobs report, in the United States there were 575,000 fewer local and public education employees in October 2021 than in February 2020.
Duval County School District officials said they are feeling the impact at all levels of their school community, but are working to ensure student learning is not impacted.
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Action News Jax Courtney Cole asked how many teaching positions there are currently in the district, compared to previous school years.
While waiting for that response, she reviewed the district’s efforts to recruit more teachers into the classroom.
“I stayed true to what I was called to do,” said teacher DeWitt Robinson. Robinson has been teaching for over 19 years. He worked at Andrew Jackson High School and Jean Ribault. He currently teaches history at Impact Christian Academy.
For Robinson, that call has always been to find a way to impact the next generation.
Cole asked, “How did you end up in teaching?”
“Excellent question!” said Robinson. “Teaching has always been part of me. My grandfather was a teacher. My great-grandfather was a teacher. Several of my uncles were teachers.
Growing up, Robinson said the path of education was always at the forefront.
“Many teachers were influential growing up. Mr. Floyd, my seventh grade social studies teacher, my 12th grade, Mr. Taylor, social studies teacher,” Robinson said.
Now he hopes to play the same role in the lives of his students.
Currently, the Duval County School District is looking for 1,000 teachers, men of color, to fill their classrooms by 2025.
This is part of an initiative led by the Jacksonville Public Education Fund. They are in partnership with the University of North Florida, City Year and Teach for America.
The school district tells me this will help address the shortage and diversity of teachers.
“When students are engaged with someone who looks like them, the discussions look like them, so we can definitely expect to see accomplishments skyrocket as well,” Robinson told Action News Jax Courtney Cole.
“I believe celebrating teaching is part of the solution to getting more teachers, especially more male teachers,” Robinson continued, “There’s often glorification of those who can be star athletes. , maybe pursuing something in the entertainment industry through music or producing the music or the other arts. But I think one of the things we can all do is celebrate these guys who come to school, show up 180 days a year, to be at the forefront of students.
Duval County Public Schools tell me they need to get creative to minimize the impact of teacher vacancies on students.
Currently, the district is working with the ESS provider, which employs over 2,200 substitute teachers in its pool. “This provides the primary solution for the majority of our short-term faculty vacancies needs,” said DCPS media team member Sonya Duke-Bolden.
“For many schools, it is not uncommon to find a principal, vice-principal, dean, academic coach, speaker or school counselor in the classroom who teaches to ensure that students are engaged in the classroom. ‘learning”, Superintendent Dr Diana Greene said via email.
“They are truly heroes on the front lines, engaged in a battle to recoup the learning loss of the pandemic as school districts across the country rise to the challenge of teacher shortages. In addition to school staff teaching in the classroom, we have also moved the majority of our district-level academic team – academic coaches and specialists who normally provide professional development to educators – into the classroom as well. They are highly accomplished educators who have been elevated to leadership roles because of their expertise. While these tactics help meet some of the needs, I can’t stress enough that they should be considered short-term. Our long-term solution continues to invest in teacher recruitment and retention initiatives, with an emphasis on strategic community collaboration. The persistent problem of the shortage of teachers is a global problem that requires a global and community solution.
For those considering a career change or already considering further education, Robinson has this message to share:
“So see this as an opportunity to give back, to make a meaningful connection, to improve their community by giving back.”
The Duval County School District also wants female teachers and people from all walks of life.
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The district currently has three other recruitment programs open. Here is the informations:
- LEAP – Helps individuals earn bachelor’s degrees and encourages them to teach to earn their teaching certification, so they can be eligible for employment by January 1, 2022.
- START: This is for current DCPS employees with an associate degree and a desire to teach. Through a partnership with St. Leo University, UNF, and FSCJ, the program offers the opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Education degree at a low cost.
- Project Jumpstart: This is a program that helps place people eligible to teach in hard-to-fill content positions. The program includes a six-week training component, two weeks of which are spent learning under the guidance of a master classroom educator.
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