Our public school system has improved from a state-graded D/F rating to a solid C while Superintendent Ken McMullan has been on the job. I visited him recently to find out how we’re doing and to ask about the shortage of qualified teachers that I’ve been reading about.
“Yes,” the Superintendent said. “We do have a problem finding teachers who are willing to work in a small town like Louisville. He said it’s not unusual; it’s the same all over America in any area which is located away from the coasts or the population centers of larger cities, because those are places where young professionals want to be nowadays.
McMullan told me that his 225 teachers generally fit into two categories: New teachers fresh from graduation or with one or two years of experience and the career teachers who are here for what he calls the ‘long-haul.’
The new teachers – about 25% turnover every two or three years – often leave for better paying jobs or to follow spouses who are moving for work or other reasons. The ‘career’ teachers stay here because they have returned ‘home,’ their families are here or they prefer small-town life. Many are not entirely dependent on living within the limits of a teacher’s paycheck.
There are some problems inherent in this dichotomy of new teachers and veteran teachers. A balance is ideal but difficult to find. New teachers just do not take students, control conduct, and do a good job presenting the material they are charged with delivering. With the exception of a few natural born teachers, it usually takes a few years’ experience to become really proficient instructors – oops, that the two or three years after which many want to move on for bigger schools, bigger cities, and better money. What happens then? Well, we start over again.
As the pay-gap widens between the teaching profession and other fields of work, it is only going to become more difficult to replace those who leave. There are few options.
We can lower standard for teachers as some other locations have been forced to do – maybe accept junior college graduates to teach in the lower grades. We can increase classroom student numbers but large classes have proven to be less beneficial to students. We can try to increase teacher pay but where will the tax dollars come from? Some parents may want to choose homeschooling, but that’s more practical in theory than reality and not a possibility if the children live in a two-income family where both parents are gone all day. These are the kind of problems the Superintendent faces daily.
The concern which the 75% of teachers who are here to stay, is this: It’s extremely difficult to enter the classroom year after year, every morning, with a smile on your face and a feeling of care and love for your students while imparting the feeling that you are happy to be there. I say this after many years teaching everything from grade 6 to graduate school. Teaching is a tough job with low pay. You have to have some love in your heart to do it. Burnout is common whether the ‘burned out’ admit it or not.
Where will we continue to find the people to lead our classroom? We will look for answers because we cannot afford not to.
Applicants are welcome to apply for open positions right now. Just call 773-4070 (school Administration office).
Next week: Budgets; finding a racially diverse teaching corps, private schools and public schools, and other town’s solutions. Plus, I’ll write about our ‘Alternative School.’
food for thought in discussion on a range of topics
Rambling with Mrs. Arlene
Praise the Lord everyone. I hope everyone is doing well. My prayer is that everyone who is reading this is keeping God in their life first and before anything else. We are living in a time that we need to be holding on to God with all we’ve got. I truly believe that he is coming soon to claim his bride and take us home to live with him forever in heaven. Sometimes I try to imagine just how beautiful heaven is going to be. I can tell you right now nothing on Earth can ever compare with what it will be like. My husband and I traveled all over this country for years following Joe’s work. We saw some beautiful places, but I still have to say “take this whole world but give me Jesus.”
I’ve never seen a time when there’s so many people who have served God for years and all of the sudden they have stopped coming to church. It seems like sometimes people just look for something to get mad about. I admit that people don’t always do just like I want them to. But I tell you one thing for sure, I don’t intend on missing out on Heaven just because I got my little feelings hurt. That’s just pure out Insanity. God help us be bigger than that.
When I see people dropping out of church and I look at their children and grandchildren who are depending on them for leadership, it breaks my heart. I think of my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who call me on a daily basis, sometimes several of them, and they say, “Mawmaw pray for me I don’t feel good today or I’ve got this hard test today and I know God will hear you so please pray.” Then sometimes it’s Mawmaw pray for my dog he’s having seizures again or from Hayley, “please pray for my rabbit.” It’s because we raised them to believe in the power of prayer. See when we become a Christian, we take on a responsibility to live a life and set an example for those we love most and for those out in the world looking and watching our life. They are searching for a reason to turn their life around and live for God too! As a Christian, I beg you to think about what I’m saying and realize our responsibility to hold up the cause of Christ. Only then can we encourage those who are out there that are lost and discouraged to come to church and receive Jesus into their lives.
When we let the devil trick us into giving up and turn our back on God, we not only let ourselves and family down, but we let no telling how many other people down that have watched our lives and the way we live. When we fail, they say, “it must not be nothing to it. Look how these good Christians have turned out.” I believe we will be held responsible for every person we discourage from serving God.
We also have those who don’t go to church and they say it’s because they are sick or hurting, and they felt so bad on Sunday they stayed home. If you’re sick or hurting, you’ve got a lot better chance of getting your healing in church than if you stayed home nursing your problem. It’s time we step up and take responsibility for our actions.
I’ve got to go and get in bed. Remember we have one chance to really shine for Jesus. Please hang on to God. Don’t give up. It will be worth it. May God bless each of you. Call me at 662-724-4691 or write at 40 West Alice Street, Noxapater, MS 39346. We love you all. See you next week Lord willing. Jesus is the light. All we have to do is stay focused on him.