Columbia County issued a call for more teachers in expectation of departures and growth. More than 200 educators are needed to fill vacancies due to retirement, mostly.
“We’re going to grow by a couple hundred students, probably by about 400 students,” said Anthony Wright, Chief Human Resources Officer.
Wright said the school district is targeting as many as 225 educators to fill positions being vacated by retirees and people moving.
“Probably three or four years ago, teachers weren’t moving with their spouses as often,” he explained.
Right now, Wright said there are less than 28,000 students in the district. He expects more than 28,000 for the upcoming year.
“Fort Gordon is growing as well, so that’s going to bring more family members, more children and we’re going to need more teachers to accommodate that,” Wright said.
So what type of teachers are needed? Wright told us its primarily elementary, middle and then high school teachers. Specialists are hard to come by though.
“The special ed teachers or the speech language pathologist teachers,” Wright said of teacher needs. “Teachers that have been on demand as of late have been the hearing impaired teachers.”
Columbia County does not have to look too far for most of its teachers though. Wright said about 40 percent of the district’s hires come right from Augusta University’s College of Education.
“We know that nationally there is a huge shortage in teacher production,” said College of Education Interim Dean Judi Wilson. “That’s not just a localized concern, but it’s certainly a national trend.”
Wilson told NewsChannel 6 that trend is considered the graying and the greening. She said teachers are retiring later and new teachers are younger and sometimes coming from other fields. Some leave altogether, but they are working with about a dozen local districts to fill classrooms.
“We actually train our teachers not here at the university for our elementary education program and our middle grades program, but we actually train them in our local schools,” she said.
Wright adds that Columbia County offers competitive salaries compared to other counties. To apply for a job, visit here.
To learn more about Augusta University’s College of Education program, click here.
Photojournalist: Gary Hipps