In Kentucky, We’re Getting Creative With Staffing Schools During This Pandemic

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Everywhere you go, you see “Now Hiring” signs. A lot of companies are offering large sign-on bonuses for new employees. You know who also is in desperate need of “help” but can’t offer these same incentives? The education world. No matter what school district’s website you look at, you will see that they are hiring. They are hiring instructional assistants. They are hiring teachers. They are hiring coaches. They are hiring bus drivers. They are hiring custodians. They are hiring substitute teachers. They are hiring for all positions.

Just the other night, I went to Panera for dinner with my family. As soon as we walked in the door we were greeted with a sign that asked for us to order our own food on their electronic machine because due to staff shortages, no one was available to take our order. This got me thinking, ‘What would schools do if staff shortages get to that point?’

Amanda Klare, loving what she does.

Kentucky is leading the way in trying to find solutions to this ever-growing teacher shortage problem. They have started a program called GoTeachKY where they have teacher ambassadors educating others through social media platforms about different pathways to become a teacher. They spotlight new teachers, veteran teachers, and even aspiring teachers. The focus of the GoTeachKy posts are concentrated on teachers’ reasons for wanting to become an educator. Last year, I was fortunate enough to be selected as a GoTeachKY ambassador and was chosen to talk about “my why” on a podcast episode.

This year, I’ve teamed up with Beechwood High School math teacher, C.J. Fryer, to bring the Educators Rising program to our school district. Educators Rising is a national program that helps with the “Grow Your Own” initiative. Research shows that “more than 60 percent of U.S. teachers work within 20 miles of where they went to high school (Reininger, 2012).” With this club, I’d like to think that we are a small part of the solution because hopefully these nine members will have a class of their own in just a few years. Our biweekly meetings began in October with this small group of future educators. Their passion for their projects is truly inspiring.

The teaching shortage was predicted many years ago, but what was not predicted was the extreme sub shortage at the same time. Just this past week, I saw a segment on the news that an Ohio district had put out a letter asking for people to sign up to become a sub. This same district a month ago had increased the daily pay scale for substitutes. The month before their school board voted to follow the lead of Ohio Senate Bill 1 which allows for modified education requirements for substitutes for the 2021-2022 school year to help with shortages.

Districts across the United States need help with this sub shortage. Teachers shouldn’t have to worry if there will be a substitute available to cover their class if they have to miss school. Principals shouldn’t have to cover classes because there is no substitute available.

In August, I made it three days into the school year before I ended up with a positive COVID test. I was completely devastated because the beginning of the school year is a time that teachers like me live for; it’s when you build relationships with your students and you start your new routines. The first thing I did when I got that positive test result was to contact some of the subs on my list to take care of my new students. Lucky for me, I had two of the best taking care of my students for the days I had to miss. One sub was Karen Flach, a former Beechwood teacher and parent. The other was Matt Steenken, a retired postman and Beechwood parent. I knew that even though I couldn’t be there, my students would be in good hands with these two amazing people. I knew my students would be greeted by name at the door as soon as they walked in because Mr. Steenken and Mrs. Flack are at our school almost five days a week and know almost every student in our P-12 building.

If you’re looking for a way to make a difference and to be a part of the solution — please check out various districts’ websites to see what jobs are available because we are now hiring and we need you.

This piece originally appeared with the Northern Kentucky Tribune under a different headline.

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