Retired teachers returning to the classroom amid shortage

Published: Sep. 16, 2022 at 8:51 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - The nationwide teacher shortage is affecting schools everywhere, including Louisiana.

A study by the national education association found that 55 percent of educators plan to leave the profession earlier than planned.

In some cases, retired teachers are coming back into the classroom to fill that need. However, they say their duties are not as simple as they used to be.

“You have to make sure kids have everything they need. You can’t expect them to learn if they are hungry, if they didn’t sleep, if they are cold, you have to take care of all those needs so were not just teachers anymore,” STEM teacher Carolyn Locks said.

Carolyn Locks is one of the few teachers that has returned to the school system to teach post retirement. Another is her colleague, ELA teacher Denise Jones. Jones worked as a teacher for the parish for 32 years, but her retirement didn’t last that long before came back to teach at Lake Charles Charter Academy.

“I felt the need to continue and as you said because of the teacher shortage, but also because of my desire to teach, it’s just my passion,” Jones said.

Although Jones says it is her passion, she believes there are some areas in the profession that could use some improvement.

“It’s a combination but, I think the strongest combination is the lack of recognition for the profession, and the commitment to the students. Economically, I think teachers should be paid as professionals,” she said.

Both teachers said these are just a few of the factors adding on to the shortage that may keep this shortage going. Principal Marcus Simon said the need for teachers are crucial and although he’s fully staffed, he understands the demand due to the high turn-over rate and salary.

“Speaking for our area in Southwest Louisiana, having one of the biggest plant industries in the world, I think that’s a huge draw for people fresh out of college who want to instantly make a decent salary fresh out of school. If you compare the salary of a plant worker to the salary of an educator its very different, so trying to attract educators does become difficult,” Simon said.

However, despite the shortage increasing, Simon hopes people will still reconsider.

“This is the only profession that has an effect on every area of the workforce,” Simon said.