PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Summer break is here, but Thursday afternoon at the South Florida Fairgrounds hundreds of teachers were at work.
“We have 179 schools and there’s always openings,” Tim Kubrick, Palm Beach County School District said.
Erika Walsh and her colleagues at Palm Beach Lakes Community High School spent the day Thursday trying to fill the job vacancies at their school.
“The students in the classroom are the ones that will suffer the most if there is a shortage of teachers,” Walsh said.
On the first day of the 2018 school year, Palm Beach County was short 242 teachers. Nearly 100 of those vacancies were in elementary schools.
Taylor Nemetz is moving here from Pennsylvania. The recent college graduate says she received criticism for wanting to become a teacher.
“A lot of people suggested many different career paths for me, but teaching isn’t something that you get into for a paycheck,” she said. “You really do it for the love of the kids and for bettering the world.”
Kubrick says to compete with other districts they’ve increased marketing around the country and are advertising a referendum that will give teachers more money. Starting in August teachers with ten or more years of experience will get a $10,000 annual supplement over the next four years.
“It makes us a lot more competitive and able to bring in the best teachers,” he said.
They’re also working to keep teachers like Walsh through a new teacher ambassador program. Walsh will serve as a liaison between the teachers and the district to make sure teachers needs and concerns are met.
“Our goal is to ensure that there is high teachers retention, that there’s teacher satisfaction in their job and that they are getting what they need,” Walsh said.
Kubrick says more than 200 positions were filled at Thursday’s career fair.