JACKSON, MS (WLBT) -The teacher shortage that Mississippi is facing is taking on different forms in Holmes County.
They have teachers in the classroom right now, but half their teacher workforce is either not certified or only has a one year license, meaning they still need to pass some of their testing to be fully certified.
“Will you be my teacher?” is the phrase on billboards now located in eight cities. It’s a more personal plea that’s part of the teacher recruitment campaign in Holmes County.
“We’re going to go out and get those teachers,” said Superintendent Dr. James L. Henderson.
“In order for us to move beyond the F rating, we need teachers, and we need qualified teachers," noted school board member April Jones. "We cannot sit by and just watch things occur the way they used to occur.”
Holmes County is an example of challenges districts across the state are facing. The pay is low compared to surrounding states and there aren’t as many college students choosing careers in education.
“2,000 vacancies are expected and the entire state of Mississippi only has 515 educators who will be graduating from the Department of Education,” explained Henderson.
That’s the first hurdle for a rural district, finding teachers willing to put down roots off the beaten path. That’s why they’re also exploring plans to bring the temporary teachers up to speed and get them certified.
“We’re going to ask the state to take a look at certifying school districts to create its own alternative certification programs," explained Henderson. "We are engaged in conversation with Teach for America. They will take them through a boot camp summer program to develop those teachers and work to ensure they take a pass the Praxis exam.”
Superintendent Henderson said he’s also in talks with the school board about making the starting salaries one of the top in the state. Again, in an effort to attract more applicants.
To learn more about Holmes County Consolidated School District’s recruitment campaign, click HERE.