Teacher Shortages Across the Country

Alicia Kilian, Staff Writer

Within the last few years, schools across the country have been faced with a record-breaking number of teacher shortages. Many teachers have made the tough choice of quitting their profession, leaving incoming students with no teacher for various subjects. 

The reasons that many teachers leave their classrooms vary across a huge scale. According to chalkbeat.org, many teachers cite a lack of respect, strict schedules, pandemic-induced exhaustion, and low pay as a few reasons that discourage them in their field. Newly hired teachers are also more likely to leave teaching in comparison to teachers with more experience. Empty positions in numerous departments leads many staff members to double up or take on positions they are not used to.

Juniors in HMHS have been without a permanent English teacher for over a month across all courses, including AP English Language Composition. Mr. Riso, 10th grade English and 12th grade AP Literature teacher, has had to double up on his roles as a teacher and work across numerous grades to fill in this empty spot. While he has been consistently assigning and grading work across all his classes, his main worry is the lack of a teacher in the classroom. He says that, “Even if I make something that is new material, I can’t reasonably expect that anybody who is working on the new material is actually getting new skill sets.” Substitute teachers such as Ms. Anderson and Mr. Cave have been in the classroom helping advance students while the progress of hiring a new teacher is being completed. 

Mrs. Thompson, Spanish teacher and head of the foreign language department at HMHS, is saddened by the shortage. As a Spanish teacher, she believes that the key to learning a language is having someone available to talk and conversate with. However, one of her biggest concerns is motivation for incoming students. “What’s going to motivate a kid to know that there may not be Spanish III or IV next year?” said Thompson. 

Jaida Gedeon, sophomore, is currently taking the Spanish III language course with Mrs. O’Driscoll, former assistant principal of HMHS. She believes that not having a teacher has had a negative impact on her learning. When asked about the drawbacks of not having a teacher, she said that, “It would be not having someone to talk you through what you’re learning. Most of what we do having learning a second language is grammar but with nobody to thoroughly correct it, it’s hard to understand it better.” Obstacles like this can obstruct the learning process and further discourage students to take higher level courses

So what seems to be the solution? Different states have tackled this problem in a number of ways. According to The Washington Post, Florida has asked veterans, regardless of teaching experience, to enter classrooms. Arizona has followed in somewhat similar footsteps, allowing college students to “step in and instruct children.” 

Mr. Rosenfeld, newly appointed Vice Principal at HMHS, believes there are numerous things that can be done, one of which is increasing teacher pay. He says that, in general, “I think teachers-especially in the beginning of their careers-are paid too little.” He remains positive, saying, “It’s a nationwide problem but I think we’re responding to it better than most places.” He is grateful for both the students and staff for adapting to these rapid changes, and is continuing his work with Principal Tarsky to hire new teachers.

Despite the constant changes in school systems across the country, administrators in HMHS are working harder than ever to keep our schools a great learning and working environment for those it accommodates.