PSA airing in North Carolina encourages people to become teachers

A new PSA is airing in North Carolina this national Teacher Appreciation Week, encouraging people to enter the teaching profession.

TEACH.org, the group behind the PSA, said it was spurred by the national teacher shortage.

TEACH NC was created through a partnership between TEACH.org, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NC DPI) and the nonprofit BEST NC, and collaborates with school districts and educator preparation programs.

Thomas Tomberlin is the director of educator recruitment and support for NC DPI. He said about 7 percent of teachers leave North Carolina public schools annually. He said it's usually due to retirement or family relocation.

"We also know that traditional teacher preparation programs across the state are showing declining enrollment," Tomberlin said. "So the challenge here is can we supplement that declining enrollment with other strategies to bring people into the profession? So the PSA is helping us accomplish that by stretching our recruitment efforts across the nation."

TEACH.org said the pandemic resulted in teacher resignations and early retirements.

Tomberlin said we don't have the data on that in North Carolina yet.

"That's still forthcoming," Tomberlin said. "But my initial reaction to that would be probably not because our schools were very good about.. allowing teachers to work remotely and allowing them to continue working in safe environments."

Kelly Jones, of Cary, used to be an elementary school teacher in Wake County. While she said it was wonderful working with students every day, she left seven years ago to work for a private company.

"There's so many challenges that aren't accounted for, particularly with teacher pay in North Carolina, that it's just really hard to overcome," Jones said.

"That was really ultimately part of the decision, and then flexibility as well, so just being able to work and then also have a family."

According to the Learning Policy Institute, the number of new teachers needed will increase to 316,000 annually by 2025.

"We need more people who want to make that impact on our youth," said Creighton Blackwell, of Coastal Credit Union, which is a sponsor of and provides funding to TEACH NC. "We want to... have more people to be able to help influence, to help build our next leaders, will help build our next scientists, to help build our next constituents. We need those people and we want to actively get them to come enter into this profession."
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