Teacher shortage sad, but understandable, retired educators say

Pandemic stress, disrespectful students seen as reasons for quitting

SAN ANTONIO – Having worked in the San Antonio and North East Independent school districts as a teacher, counselor and administrator, Sandra Ojeda Medina said the first year of her retirement was hard emotionally.

“When I would pass elementary schools, especially, I would cry,” she said. “It was just such a big part of my life and I enjoyed my job.”

Times were far different then, Ojeda Medina said.

The retired educator said she believes one of the big reasons why teachers are quitting is the lack of respect they’re shown in the classroom.

“The kids are getting tougher. I think there’s less discipline in the home,” she said, in part due to the turmoil in those homes caused by the pandemic.

Retired teachers like herself said there’s also been the uproar in schools over masks, the back and forth between in-person and virtual learning, and pressure from Texas lawmakers and parents over what they can or can’t teach.

“Some of them had mental breakdowns, and so they could not go back to the classroom,” said Mary Frances Huron, who retired after 36 years.

Her daughter, Loretta Christina Huron, a teacher’s aide for 31 years, said virtual learning was especially hard for her special needs students.

Both she and her mother said not even a teacher shortage would be enough to bring them into the classroom.

Due to health issues, they both said the stress would be too much.

As of Wednesday, SAISD reported it has 114 teacher vacancies, compared to 34 just prior to the pandemic in 2020.

NEISD reported 80 vacancies, but only 37 in 2019.

Dr. Norma Smith Tyler, past president of the San Antonio Area Retired Teachers Association, said she urges teachers who are considering leaving the profession to seek the advice of experienced teachers they trust who can serve as mentors.

“Teachers are pretty tough birds. They have to kind of be, to be in this business,” she said. “We’re not giving up on our children.”

Huron, the retired teacher’s aide, said, “God bless them. You know, really. They need all our prayers.”

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About the Authors:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

Sal Salazar is a photojournalist at KSAT 12. Before coming to KSAT in 1998, he worked at the Fox affiliate in San Antonio. Sal started off his career back in 1995 for the ABC Affiliate in Lubbock and has covered many high-profile news events since. In his free time, he enjoys spending time at home, gaming and loves traveling with his wife.