Help Wanted: Is the need for teachers greater because of the pandemic?

Fox 4 is showing you the ins & outs of jobs hiring in Southwest Florida
Posted at 7:40 AM, May 19, 2021

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — The Lee County School District is hiring teachers for the upcoming school year. If you're interested in applying, the District said it's filling hundreds of positions. There is always a need for teachers, but because of the pandemic, Fox 4 wanted to find out if that need is even greater this year.

"Being a teacher is like, lifelong, because you share knowledge with another human being, and as they grow, they take that knowledge you gave them out into the world. There's just nothing better," Gwynetta Gittens, a Lee County School Board Member who was a teacher for 12 years, said.

Suzette Rivera, the Assistant Director for Recruitment for the District, said they're filling hundreds of teaching positions right now, especially in Math, Reading, and Special Education.

"Natural growth within our district, opening up a new high school, as well as the new students that are continuing to enroll," Rivera cited as reasons for needing more teachers.

She believes the need for teachers isn't necessarily greater because of the pandemic.

"Looking at our trends from last year to this year, we're almost pretty close to the same. Actually, we've had a lot of teachers deciding to stay, because of the fear of trying to find a job in a job market that is not so favorable sometimes," she said.

The Lee County School Districts Chief Human Resources Officer said so far, they've seen a high retention rate year over year.

"What happens at the end of this year and starting of next year will give us a better indication of what impact COVID has really had on the teaching profession," she said.

Pruitt also said the District uses the month of October to compare staffing numbers.

"So when I compare this school year's October, to the October in the Fall, I will really know if COVID has had a negative impact in terms of teachers, because when I look at the monthly, there's really not that much of a difference," she said.

Gittens thinks the pandemic is making it tougher to find candidates.

"I think the pandemic has affected a lot of people's minds as to what they're doing, and especially the families that lost family members and close friends to COVID. And I do believe we're having a harder time because of it," she said.

Gittens said if you've thought about becoming a teacher in the past, consider it again.

"Don't judge the profession by this last year. Judge it by when you first thought about going into teaching, and looking at what teachers do. Look back on the good days. It's once in a lifetime, hopefully, to go through a pandemic," she said.

The Lee County School District said it anticipates a more typical school year come Fall.

If you're curious about a career in Education, the District said to connect with them, and they can help walk you through the process, even if you don't have a degree in education. To apply, click here.