APEX, N.C. (WTVD) -- Courtney Bowman is a teacher-turned-entrepreneur who left the classroom to pursue her cheeseboard business, Raleigh Cheesy. She opened her doors in 2019 seeking better pay and quality of life.
"I just needed something that offered more financial flexibility as well as creative flexibility," said Bowman. "I was doing this as a side hustle on the side of teaching. I was a middle school teacher for seven years. Then I started making cheeseboards as a creative outlet. Leaving was not an easy decision by any means."
According to a new report released by Public Schools of North Carolina, an alarming number of teachers have left the profession and school districts are struggling to fill the positions.
For the 2021-22 school year, there were 5,540 openings on the first day of school compared to 3792 vacancies the previous school year.
By the 40th day of school, school districts across the state made some progress and hired almost 500 teachers. It left a total of 5,091 openings compared to 3213 vacancies the previous school year.
The report speaks to the burnout teachers are experiencing.
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The North Carolina Association of Educators told ABC11, these openings impact students who are lowest performing.
"When they don't have that consistent performer in their classroom they continue to lose out on instruction and academic gains in comparison to their peers," said Tamika Walker Kelly, president of NCAE.
According to Kelly, lawmakers should consider putting policies in place that allow school districts to recruit and retain. She said she believes they should be paid more as many teachers spend time lesson planning and taking professional development courses.
"The workload of an educator spans more than just 40 hours a week, but upwards of 50 or 60 hours a week," she said.
It's the workload that Bowman doesn't miss. Her newfound career has allowed for more time with her family.
"Not every day looks the same for me now which offers more flexibility in my life. I have a 5-year-old," said Bowman.