Wicomico County Public Schools give an update on recruiting efforts for teachers

MARYLAND-The teacher shortage is an issue school systems have been grappling for years, but Cheryl Bost, President of Maryland State Education Association, said it’s also something that’s been heightened by the pandemic.

“I think there has been a greater light shown on it, that people understand that “hey, this is an issue,'” Bost said.  “The workload became greater, the trauma and the needs, not only of our educators but our students and families.”

With that said, school districts are trying to face these challenges head on, along with the new problems coming their way.

“It used to be that you had the high need areas such as math or special education, now every area is a high need area,” Dr. Rick Briggs, Chief Academic Officer of the Wicomico Public School District, said.

“I’m most concerned with retention because we will have to wait awhile to get those new teacher candidates and get them up to speed, but in the mean time we could lose more educators,” Bost said.

Dr. Briggs said it’s becoming harder and harder to fill teacher vacancies, as less people are choosing to go into the profession; or they are finding that seniors at local colleges already have jobs lined up.

“We have had to extend our efforts down into the junior class in college and even some of the sophomores who are just starting to take education course work,” Dr. Briggs said.

But, the district’s efforts don’t end there. We’re told a fairly new program, known as the Teacher Academy of Maryland Program, can possibly help fill those gaps by allowing high school students to explore teaching careers.

“We are just starting to see the benefits of it, it hasn’t been extremely impactful yet, but we are hopeful that we can continue to grow the program,” Dr. Briggs said.

The Maryland State Education Association said they’re putting in the work too with the help of the State Superintendent.

“We are looking at the para-educators and our education support professionals who are already full time, dedicated employees in our schools, who work with students each and everyday and giving them the opportunities to become teachers to get their actual certificate, some of that is a pay incentive,” Bost said.

The Wiomico County Public School District said another effort that was recently approved is being able to give their teachers an almost 7% salary raise. So, starting salaries are now over $52,000.

The School District also added when it comes to shortages, they have had a normal rate of retirements.

Meanwhile, the Maryland State Education Association said they are trying to promote teaching as a field that people will want to go into, with an emphasis on getting more minority educators hired.

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