School Staffing Crisis Rippling Across America


Asharia Olukayode

Kenwood teachers enjoying one of many Spirit weeks that take place throughout the year.

Asharia Olukayode

With the approach of the 2021-2022 school year, schools reopened and the world was socializing once again, but Covid was still lingering. However, with masks and vaccines, there was hope to resume to a normal, typical school year.

But as large numbers of students returned to their school buildings, teachers, bus drivers, and other school personnel were joining what’s becoming known as the “great resignation.” Some, what’s now thought to be too many, left their jobs in education.

Prior to the pandemic, there was concern of a teacher shortage on the horizon, but the pandemic appears to have exacerbated and expedited the problem.

BCPS schools, students, and families were hoping to return to a normal school year, but they are all realizing the reality of the education staffing shortage because it’s not only teachers that are in short supply, but also bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and other support personnel that schools need to function on a day-to-day basis. However, the lack of staffing isn’t a just a problem for BCPS because the staffing shortage is a crisis for school systems nationwide, impacting the education of students everywhere.

This shortage has left many wondering why are they leaving? How do we get people to stay in the field of education?

Common reasons educators are leaving in a mass exodus from the careers in which some have worked for decades are low pay and the treatment they receive from society in general.

Mental health has also been a concern for educators. In hopes of helping their teachers manage their mental health and manage the increase demands that have been placed on them as a result of the pandemic, Baltimore County gave their teachers an extra day off for the Thanksgiving break.

At Kenwood High School, Principal Brian Powell sees teacher mental health as an important factor in retaining teachers in the education field. Mr. Powell shares, “The mental health of our teachers, students, and families is extremely important. We want to be sure we identify any concerns teachers or students are having and provide as many resources as we possibly can to support them.”

Educators often feel like there’s much going on in the field of education that is out of their control. That feeling can make it hard to keep and motivate teachers to stay in the profession. As an administrator, Mr. Powell stresses the importance of focusing on what can be controlled. “We want to be sure we focus on the things that we can control. The things we can control are how we take care of and support our teachers, students, bus drivers, custodial staff, etc. We can control how we show our gratitude and appreciation of our educational professionals and how we celebrate the many successes our teachers and students achieve. Our teachers work very hard in providing the best instructional program and do an awesome job at it as they focus on ensuring our students are able to compete at the highest level in their college/career choices,” he shares.

To help boost faculty morale, Kenwood’s leadership team starts meetings off celebrating recent staff and student successes, recognizes teacher and students of the month, celebrate and recognize staff with food and gifts during weeks like Teacher Appreciation week, organize events for staff to have fun together, listen to what staff may need, provide school swag whenever possible, and encourage additional spirit weeks for students and teachers to have fun. It’s also important for students, family, and communities to show their gratitude towards the very people who ensure students’ education.

Mr. Powell adds, “We have a variety of ways to support our KHS teachers such as celebrating the many successes we have, providing additional time to prepare for students, and connecting with one another. Our teachers do a tremendous job of supporting one another, and we have the absolute best team in BCPS.”

Sadly, many teachers across the country have faced situations of disrespect from students and parents. This lack of respect can sometimes result in those working in education turning away from the field of education altogether.

Just as schools prioritize creating a positive environment for students, parents and the community play a vital role in creating a school environment that all- from administration to teachers to students to bus drivers to all support staff- can feel at home in. Many worry about what the future looks like for staffing schools. Thirty year veteran Ms. Cooper shares, “In order to lure young people into teaching and away from tech and corporate jobs we have to reestablish teaching a profession, respect what it is that educators do, and compensate them well.”

Though the current Covid wave has teachers and school staff in quarantines for five to ten days or more, which has contributed to the recent closing of schools due to staffing shortages, if we don’t start to value those working in education from the teachers to the bus drivers to all the support staff, the school staffing crisis could get worse before it gets better.