STAUNTON – I love my job. When I started teaching 15 years ago as a second career, I totally assumed it would be my last change of occupation.
I used to joke with students about how I wanted ghosts to be real so I could one day wander the halls of Stonton School like Almost Headless Nick in the Harry Potter books.
Training has never been easy, and after COVID-19 it only got harder.
In two years, we have adapted to new methods, new technologies and constant instability. It was as if we were building a plane while flying, but now all the signal lamps were on and we lost touch with the tower.
For as long as I can remember, educators have been told to take care and “do it for the kids” when it’s going to be hard. Throughout my career we have had many problems such as job losses due to the Great Recession. Since the spring of 2020 it has only gotten harder.
When we ask for a proper staffing level and a better salary for staff, it is not because we are greedy, but because schools need to be successful. The last two years have shown me that unskilled work does not exist. Everyone who works at the school is a necessary worker. We can’t do this alone, especially if “it” is constantly expanding.
Schools are being challenged more and more than just teaching children.
Our to-do list as administrators, bus drivers, consultants, trustees, teaching assistants, nurses, office staff, school nutrition teams and teachers is constantly growing, and our resources and funding are not.
If you’re wondering, “Why don’t you get another job?” I have sober news: school staff are leaving at an alarming rate. See the job page for any of the areas I live near. After a few visits you will notice that the lists get longer each week, not shorter. The desire to leave is connected.
Sometimes it seems like I’ve spent the last two years stepping on water in the middle of the ocean. It’s hard to blame anyone leaving the professionand encourage someone to join him harder.
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Destruction is common in education, but historically it has affected new workers. If you were able to reach five years – after that swimming was a little smoother.
Tired of teachers quitting the profession
However, now teachers are leaving the profession not newcomers. Ten-, 15- and 25-year-old veterans move out, often into the private sector, which carries the appeal of less stress and more money.
I’m not a superhero. I’m just the one who talks to students about science all day, and in the meantime probably tells too many jokes with Dad. Then I want to go home to my family and hear about their school and work day. Now I feel the need to go home and write columns like this because people need to know that we are struggling.
What I have seen as my colleagues have done over the last two years is amazing: from creating virtual courses from scratch to incorporating different technologies when teaching content through Zoom, given the social and emotional needs of students in learning. Innovation is great and instability is not.
So what do we need? The short answer is public propaganda.
Practice c continues to reduce funding per student while needs are constantly growing is not sustainable. Although the crisis began in March 2020, the loss of sufficient funding for staff due to state state restrictions imposed during the Great Recession has harmed our students academically and emotionally since 2009.
That was 13 years ago. It’s time for a change.
The Staunton City Council already knows how difficult the situation is, but the City Council needs to be pushed. In addition, Currently, Virginia has the largest budget surplus in history. Allocating a significant portion of these funds to increase and lifetime salaries for all staff and removing the state support limit will be a big step toward addressing these issues.
Inform the state delegate and senator that this should be a priority. School staff come to the children every day. It is time for citizens and the government to appear in public education.
– Nate Lawrence is a science teacher at Staunton High School and vice president of the Staunton Education Association. He is also a columnist for The News Leader.