New teachers needed soon

SANDUSKY A lack of open positions is driving prospective teachers away from Erie County.
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



A lack of open positions is driving prospective teachers away from Erie County.

But that should change within the next decade as teachers from the baby boomer generation retire in larger numbers.

According to information provided by local superintendents, close to 50 teachers in the Sandusky, Margaretta and Perkins school districts are retiring by summer's end.

In Sandusky alone, more than 100 of the district's 356 teachers are approaching retirement age with 25 or more years in the district.

"There is a significant amount of teachers retiring, and there's a lot more retirements to come," Sandusky superintendent Bill Pahl said. "More than I've seen in a long time. It's the baby boomers moving through."

According to data gathered from local school districts, more than 50 percent of Erie County's teachers and administrators have 25 years or more of experience.

As an educator for 44 years, BGSU Firelands early childhood education lecturer Judy Williams said she's optimistic about the future of teaching.

"There aren't very many jobs right now," she said. "There seems to be a lot of teachers trying to reach that 30-year mark and go on to 35 years because there's a much better retirement package."

It's a pretty powerful time. A lot of them are just at that cusp right now.

"I am very optimistic. A lot of people I know are reaching that 30th year and are ready to step out. We're so proud of our students at Firelands College. We're putting out a good product ready to fill those gaps."

But many of those students don't plan to wait around for those gaps to open up.

"I do not feel there is a sufficient amount of open teaching positions in this area," EHOVE teacher academy senior Molly Bacni said.

Bacni, like many of her peers, plans to pursue an education career in other states where the need is great rather than staying local and waiting in line for a job.

"I plan to relocate to the Carolina region of the country where they are in need of teachers," she said. "Firstly, I have always wanted to move away from the area because I am the type of person where I need the change of pace. The weather and climate also has a big factor in my decision. Lastly though, the Carolina states are both in desperate need of teachers to fill their teaching positions, whereas it's difficult to find a job around here."

Though many perspective teachers are excited about re-locating to pursue their profession, others are hoping the "black hole" in Erie county will close.

"I've been out of (college) for three years," Sandusky and Ohio State University graduate Aaron Miller said. "I pursued education because of what my teachers did for me here in Sandusky. I wanted to come back and give back to my community, but other than part-time positions, there's nothing here."

Because of severe budget cuts, many schools have retained employees with a significant amount of years in education and have had to let teachers with less experience go.

"Between the state cutting funding and teachers staying teachers longer, people with education degrees are waiting in a very long line," Miller said.

EHOVE teaching academy senior Greg Bunn said he'd love to stay and teach locally, but doesn't think there's enough jobs.

"I would like to teach locally because I want to give back to my community, but I will not pursue it heavily since it seems as though the schools have been in some problems the past few years," Bunn said. "The students in Sandusky City Schools are a great school system.

"I am willing to move anywhere to find a job in this profession. It is one of the most rewarding professions and a dream of mine. Therefore, I will do whatever it takes to be involved in this career. Even if I did get a job here, I would have to make sure that I stay until retirement or else I may not get hired anywhere else because I am not a new and 'fresh' teacher."

Amanda Lizzi, a first-year teacher and intervention specialist at Jackson Junior High, said although the job pool is small, hopefuls can take other alternatives to fill the niches.

"The amount of jobs out there depends on your specialization," she said. "Originally I had gotten my bachelor's (degree) in science and social studies, but through talking to other teachers I found that the job pool was small -- especially for anyone with a social studies background. So I decided to go back and get my master's in special education, which I knew would allow me to qualify for more jobs."

Bacni said she believes if prospective teachers makes themselves "marketable," opportunities will slide their direction.

"I am highly involved in my school and community, and I truly think that sets people apart," she said. "Many people can have perfect grades and academic records, but not everyone has all of the same outside-of-school experience along with the superior education."

"I think if I had not gone back to school, I would still be looking for job," Lizzi said. "I would think and hope that there would be more jobs available to beginning teachers in the upcoming years, but the education field is always changing and you never know what to expect."