NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — While months into the school year for many Head Start and Early Head Start programs, some here in Nashville are on a late start because there aren't enough teachers.
Nashville is hosting job fairs and even changing the qualifications to recruit.
Britany Hobbs says she was fresh out of college when she got the opportunity to teach at Metro Action Commission's Tom Joy Head start Center.
Four years later, and she's now coaching other teachers.
"I wanted to make sure that I'm pouring into them the right things so that I can reap the benefit in the end. "
Hobbs also responsible for training new teachers.
She wishes she was training more teachers but there are simply not enough.
The Metro Action Commission’s Head Start and Early Head Start program have had to delay the start of some children into its Head Start and Early Head Start centers due to teacher vacancies.
"Teaching staff, I would say we're down about 40 about 42 to 43 teachers now," said Donald Parham, interim director of Early Education and Youth.
Parham says more than 340 kids are on a waiting list to be placed in a program.
"We have parents that constantly call about when their child can come. So our goal is to meet those needs as soon as possible because we want those kids in school as well."
In an effort to recruit more teachers, the agency now has an initiative that would enable teachers with an associate degree to serve as lead teachers instead of requiring a bachelor's degree.
Additionally, teachers with a Child Development Associate (CDA) currently enrolled in a college Early Childhood Education (ECE) program or its equivalent may also be eligible for employment as lead teachers.
"An associate degree, a CDA and I would say love for children and love for families. This is heart work — h-e-a-r-t not hard work. So you have to have a heart for it as well," Parham said.
To ensure new teachers are equipped for success in the Head Start classrooms, the agency has created a teacher readiness program that will equip new lead teachers while they are employed.
The agency also has an existing program for infant and toddler teachers — with childcare experience but no formal teaching credential — to be employed in its Early Head Start program through a partnership with Nashville State Community College.
If you wish to apply there is information on the Metro Action Commission's webpage.
There is also a job fair on Saturday, Dec. 3 at the Edmondson Chapel Church at 5222 Hickory Hollow Parkway.
The job fair is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and features job opportunities from other Metro departments as well.