SAN ANTONIO – School districts here at home and across the country are scrambling to fill teaching positions with class starting this month.
Northside ISD held its annual New Teacher Academy on Monday at Brandeis High School.
Hundreds of first-year elementary and middle school teachers were in attendance, but the district, like many others, is dealing with a teacher shortage. Northside ISD currently has 260 openings for education positions across 120 campuses.
“In the big picture, 260 sounds daunting but with as many campuses that we have, it’s also not specific to all of our campuses,” said Ben Muir, NISD Asst. Superintendent for Human Resources. “Some of our campuses have a few more vacancies than others, and those are the ones we’re kind of targeting and working together to make sure we have a plan for day one.”
Muir said the district might have to add more kids to classrooms and get creative with scheduling as the new year approaches. Current standards for classroom size is 22 students per educator in kinder through second grades, 23 to 1 in third and fourth grades and 26 to 1 in fifth grade.
The district said there is not a student capacity for grades 6 to 12, although campuses always work to balance class sizes and keep them as low as possible.
But the teacher shortage is not unique to Northside.
North East ISD officials said the district currently has 180 teacher vacancies and San Antonio ISD has 80 across its campuses.
“All of our neighbors, we’re kind of all in the same boat. Everybody’s numbers kind of look different. But when you’re the fourth-largest district (NISD) in Texas, I think that’s why our numbers look maybe bigger than some of our others. But it’s the reality right now,” Muir said.
He said there are a variety of reasons for the number of vacancies.
“When you look at our colleges and universities, the numbers have been declining in their teacher prep programs. There’s also something about that stigma for teachers with school safety,” Muir said. “We’ve got to do a better job of promoting our profession and getting back to where we have people that want to get into teaching and they want to teach for the right reasons.”
Monday’s New Teacher Academy was an opportunity for first-year NISD teachers to meet fellow educators, district officials and prepare for the first day of school. The mood was upbeat and teachers who spoke to KSAT said they are ready for the challenge and ready to be a mentor for students.
“We are here to support them. We have a lot of great support staff, whatever they’re dealing with, we want them to have a good, fun time. It’s a lot of fun learning, getting to know other people around them. We’re all going to collaborate together,” said Ruthie Garza, a Pre-K NISD teacher.
Joseph Rayford changed his career after 18 years to become a second grade teacher at NISD this school year.
“Being able to impact students and being able to be a role model in their life is something that I always cherished and wanted because that’s what I had,” Rayford said. “We know it’s going to be hard and challenging. There’s going to be obstacles in any career, in any profession. And when you love something, you’re going to do anything to make that happen.”
Muir said district officials were pleased with Monday’s attendance knowing there is a high demand for teachers at the moment.
“We’ve had a total of almost 900 teachers today, some of our late hires from last year and all our new hires from this year,” Muir said. “We’re super excited that the people that came here today chose to work in Northside because in the market that we’re in, every single teacher that’s here can choose where they want to work. We’re honored that they chose us.”