High school students considering becoming teachers in the Mountain State now have an attractive opportunity, due to statewide shortages. West Virginia State School Superintendent Clayton Burch said last week that the number of teaching vacancies had doubled in the past six years. In 2021, there were 1,196 openings.
Now, 21 county school districts participate in the TeachWV Grow Your Own teacher preparation program. It will allow high school students to begin teacher training before graduating, thus entering college with a minimum of 22 credit hours; these students can then begin paid teaching in classrooms during their final years of college.
Here, teachers face a series of challenges. It is difficult, stressful and important work. The prospect can be daunting.
Tom Campbell, a member of the State Board of Education, said he recently spoke to high school students who were completely uninterested in pursuing a career as a teacher, due to the combination of college debt and pay. teachers, according to a WV Metro News report.
Burch reported that 32% of teachers in West Virginia leave the profession after four years. It’s not a recruiting problem, it’s a retention problem.
A program like Grow Your Own could make a difference, but there needs to be more to do both in terms of how teachers are taught AND the challenges they face here. The fight against scarcity is not a unilateral effort. Managers will need to be honest with themselves about the root of the problem and be prepared to address all of its facets.