Nationwide teacher shortage hits Pulaski County Public Schools

New River Valley News

PULASKI COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — Many school districts in our area — including Pulaski County — are not only experiencing a shortage of dozens of staff members, from bus drivers to custodians, but they are also getting hit hard by the lack of support.

Pulaski County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Kevin Siers says ideal class sizes should be less than 20 students at the middle school or high school level. For younger grades, it should be under 15 students.

However, he says the nationwide teacher shortage is making things difficult.

“For every administrator in the county, every counselor in the county, anyone with a professional license in our school, we’ve asked them to clear one day of the month off to be a substitute,” said Siers.

A Dublin Elementary School teacher, Sheri Nester, says there have been many times where teachers would have to go substitute for a class during their planning period.

In this year alone, she has had to substitute around eight or nine classes.

“It can be quite frustrating at times when you have a plan you are ready to execute. And then something happens and somebody gets sick, or a family member,” said Nester. “Then they have to leave, and you have to rearrange everything to make sure that your class is taken care of, but then pitch in and take care of another.”

However, Nester says seeing her children every day is what makes it all worthwhile. From the time she arrives at school until the time she leaves, Nester says she supervises her children all day long.

She wants everyone to know that if you have a passion for children, education, or teaching, this is the job that can fulfill that need.

However, that is not the case for everyone.

Several national surveys have shown teachers are more likely to leave their jobs because of the stress and burnout from the pandemic, coupled with pre-existing problems like low pay and lack of resources.

Siers says changes need to be made.

“I can remember going to local colleges and universities 10 years ago, working job fairs, and you would have 80, 90, and 100 graduates that you can interview and pick from. Now, just about any of them you go to, you might have eight or 10,” said Siers.

He added that he is proud of his staff for working through these obstacles with him.

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