District looks for solutions to teacher shortage

Posted at 6:21 PM, May 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-27 21:48:12-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Districts and education advocates are looking for solutions to teacher shortages in Tennessee.

As fewer graduating high school students pursue education degrees, some fear retiring teachers won't be replaced. Teachers have become increasingly hard to hire. Turnover rates are high across the country.

MNPS reports about 16-percent turnover each year. Right now they have 326 teacher openings, which according to the Chief of HR, Dr. Chris Barnes, is low for this time of year.

"Some retire, of course, some move around... and there is a certain percentage of people that leave the profession entirely," said Dr. Barnes.

The district is trying to be creative with its approach to hiring. Barnes said they're trying to have competitive compared to other states, and are looking into teachers who are trained with alternative certifications.

Education degrees can take many years to complete, but some alternative certifications take much less time. Alice Rolli, with iTeach, said it allows teachers to join the workforce more quickly.

"The teacher spends their first year teaching in a school while they're doing their coursework in the evening or on weekends, and they're being supervised by folks at our team or by iTeach and also by the district that's hired them," said Rolli. "They actually go from [in a] couple of weeks, deciding to become a teacher to starting work in August."

Dr. Barnes said he likes to present principals with a variety of resumes.

Both he and Rolli said the state also can play a bigger roll in incentivizing teachers. Teacher pay is one of the main causes of people finding other jobs. In the specialty fields, many can make more money going outside of education. Teacher pay is low, especially in Tennessee.