Local schools look to teens as future teaching force

The major need for teachers is still in special education, math, and science.
Published: May. 2, 2023 at 3:00 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - It’s no secret that there’s a teacher shortage nationwide.

Right here in our backyard, Richmond County is still sitting at 300 teacher vacancies for the upcoming year.

The major need for teachers is still in special education, math, and science.

The goal is to always hire local teachers since they know the community best, so they know the students better than most.

The Richmond County School System is doing something different to make sure some educators are local in Augusta: Bringing them back to the same school they were taught in.

Toward that end, the district held a future educators signing day Tuesday, giving aspiring educators a chance to pledge their commitment to education.

Some of the high school seniors signing Tuesday will head off to AU in the fall to major in education after laying down their promise to return to the Richmond County school district as an educator in four years.

“I love that environment. I love the feeling of being able to teach and to be able to figure out new things for myself and being able to help other people figure out those things. I want to be a role model for kids that I’ve seen,” said Howard Smith Jr., John S. Davison Fine Arts Magnet School

It’s a passion Smith hopes to turn into a career.

“I’ve seen the impact my teachers had on me and other students, and being able to give back to somebody else is something that I really want to be able to do,” he said.

His passion couldn’t come at a better time.

Nanette Barnes is the director of career, technical, and agricultural education. She said, “We are struggling to try to find great, awesome, amazing teachers. So we figured, why not grow our own? So that’s what we have the teaching profession pathways, as well as early childhood education pathways.”

Howard along with 17 other students have been taking classes catered to a future in teaching.

“A lot of what makes me want to be a teacher because I’ll be able to give that to kids because you know, you don’t always know everything that’s going on in the kid’s life or going on at home. Just being in that healthy space and having someone to talk to having someone to teach you things,” he said.

They’re hopeful that encouraging kids early on will bring seniors like Howard back to teach when they graduate.

“We’re working so hard with our HR department. And we figured a partnership with our HR department will help us to understand what the need is in order to replenish those teachers, and then see if we can along the way, create some type of incentive to get them back,” said Barns.