CATONSVILLE, Md. — A teacher shortage is impacting many school districts across the country, including Baltimore County.
On Thursday, the district held a job fair at Catonsville High School to help fill nearly 300 teacher vacancies.
Amy Penn, who is a senior at Towson University, will graduate this year from the school’s elementary education program.
“We need good teachers, and the kids deserve it,” she said.
Penn said she loves children. The job fair was the perfect place for her to get closer to her dream of becoming a teacher.
“Our students just need as much love and support and guidance in any way that they can, and I would love to be a part of that,” she said.
Unlike Penn, people aren’t looking to become educators like they used to in years past, said Cindy Sexton, who is the president of the Teachers Association of Baltimore County.
She said it’s one of many issues driving the shortage, which she describes as a “critical problem”.
“There are openings at seemingly at every school that has contacted me,” she said. “It does directly affect the instruction for our students,” she said. “It does directly affect the instruction for our students.”
Sexton said relatively small pay for a large workload are two other reasons making it hard to attract teachers.
“They can go to a private sector and make more money and they may work as hard during the school day but most of those jobs don’t take their work home at night and educators always take their work home,” she said.
Those factors and many others are also forcing teachers to quit the profession entirely, she said.
In a statement, Baltimore County Schools said it’s deploying a variety of strategies and resources to attract and retain teachers and staff.
It includes looking for them outside of the U.S as well as offering a competitive salary.
Sexton said the district is also working to bring in retired teachers.
"We've not had to do this before," she said.
However, she said job fairs like the one in Catonsville are essentially putting a band aid on the problem. Sexton added this won’t get solved until districts address the root causes of the issue.
“Job fairs will fill the immediate need, but they’re not going to really address the long-term problem,” she said.
She said the district will hold its first ever retired teachers job fair on October 29th.
It will be held at the Loyola University’s Graduate Center from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m..