Teacher shortages at Hayfield


Sam Deans , Staff Writer

Ever since re-entering the building from the Covid-19 pandemic, there have been challenges everybody has faced at Hayfield. However, there’s also been a hidden issue that’s been worsening in the past decade, and we’re only now paying attention to the heavy magnitude of its effects on our community: teacher shortages.

 It could be argued that teachers are the most valuable aspect of education, yet they are the most underappreciated and unfulfilled. As a result, there are thousands of children that need to be taught, but there aren’t enough teachers to do the job. But FCPS found a solution, The Resident’s Program. 

In August 2022, Superintendent Reid reported that FCPS only filled 97% of its teaching positions. To combat the vacancies FCPS crafted this program to allow people with a Bachelor’s degree to begin their teaching career, essentially with an internship, while earning their teaching license. The initiative has assisted many schools in Virginia, including Hayfield. 

Teachers from departments across Hayfield attribute vacancies to problems tracing back to a much bigger issue; little incentive to stay in the classroom due to low pay. 

Both teachers and students had to adjust to the new digital layout, leaving teachers to almost completely rewrite lesson plans while students had to adapt to sudden changes in environment. 

“We had to essentially decide what we could and could not keep from the curriculum,”  Language Department Chair Nadia Ghosheh said. “I had to make up for lost time during that Spring.. a lot of people were just really tired, and it was really difficult for them to keep going, so I definitely think it was part of the departures when we went back.”

Schools have begun to lean heavily on both pandemic and financial aid to both keep teachers in their system and bring new ones in, including a 10% budget boost to teacher salaries. 

 “I believe it is helpful for teacher pay to increase not just for the practical benefit of teachers being paid more, but the message it sends about appreciating the great and challenging work our teachers do,” Acting Principal Matthew Mough said. 

Some departments, such as Math and History, weren’t affected significantly by the shortages and saw minimal departures. However, the Special Education Department saw significant changes, while the English Department saw almost all brand new seventh grade teachers this school year. 

“[We’ve] had a lot of turnover, between experienced teachers retiring, or moving to different positions within the county, there are lots of new teachers in our department,” Amy Kingsbury, Special Ed./High School English Teacher said. “I think around 20 members of the Special Education department have left Hayfield between the end of last school year and now.”

Though teachers came into the school year with a considerable amount of stress, the SOAR 13/17 implementation added even more stress to schedules. Some people argue the implementation to help get students back on track with their studies in Math and English is beneficial to student’s academic success, others disagree. 

“I just wonder if the administration and people who implement these plans really understand the stress that teachers are under. When they come out with this new plan that might look great on paper the reality is you’re asking teachers to add a little more to their workloads,” High School English Teacher Kristine Long said. “Maybe it should be rolled out next year instead or thought through a little bit more carefully.” 

Teachers are facing the effects of a situation they weren’t prepared for. 

“[I think] the pendulum of power is shifting… I don’t think administrators… district… recognizes the power shift because our society still treats teachers like they treat everybody in the service industry,” Ariel Alford, HS History Teacher said. “In society we treat people in service industries poorly. Teachers are a part of that because most people look at us as babysitters. We watch your kids all day…you treat us poorly in pay, treat us poorly in respect, you allow your students and children to treat us poorly with their disrespect.”