Many of us can still recall that teacher from our childhood who made a difference in our lives. Teachers “back then” often spent their entire career in the classroom teaching children. Sometimes they retired after 30 or more years of service, having spent their entire career in the same classroom at the same school. There was generally little turnover; however, in the event a principal needed to fill a position, properly certified candidates were readily available, and the interview process was very competitive.
Fast forward to 2023, and it is easy to see how drastically things have changed in public education. “Teacher shortage” is a frequent and recurring topic among district and school administrators, teacher education programs at colleges and universities, and the Alabama Department of Education. Of the 149 city and county school systems in Alabama, the vast majority have been forced to hire teachers on emergency or provisional certificates, which indicates teacher shortages across the state. Elmore County currently has 33 teachers on emergency or provisional certificates meaning they did not graduate from a teacher education program at a college or university and are pursuing certification via an alternative route.
Recruiting and retaining teachers is a priority across the state. Classroom teachers are the single most influential people in a child’s education. Their impact on students cannot be overstated, and we know how critically important it is to place the best, most qualified teachers in every classroom. One step we have taken in Elmore County is the establishment of a Teacher Task Force which began meeting in the fall of 2021. The goal of the Teacher Task Force is to gather information to help us address the needs and concerns of classroom teachers as well as identify what steps we can take to help us increase their retention. We have already implemented some of their suggestions and recommendations, and we look forward to their ongoing positive impact.
If you or someone you know is contemplating a career change or you desire to work in a position where you can make a lasting impact in the lives of children, I urge you to consider the teaching profession. There are several ways to achieve teacher certification, and our Human Resources Department can provide you with that information. Please visit our website, www.elmoreco.com, or call us at (334) 567-1200.
Our great teachers help us fulfil our purpose, day in and day out: Every Student Empowered – Every Student Succeeds.
Richard Dennis is the Superintendent of Education for Elmore County Schools. He is a 1983 graduate of Holtville High School. He served 21 years as a high school principal at Holtville High, Wetumpka High and most recently, Prattville High. He and wife, Leslie (also an educator) have three sons and a daughter.