New CHS teachers illustrate discrepancy with article concerning Indiana teacher shortage

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Over the summer, CHS hired 37 new teachers to accommodate the record student population of 5,011 this school year.            

“We had this growth and we’re fortunate; we’re very lucky that with the growth that we’ve had, we (have been) able to hire teachers. Our district has made it a priority to make sure our class sizes stay the same, and to do that you have to hire teachers,” Assistant Principal Maureen Borto said.

Even with the influx, Indiana, as well as many other states across the country, faces a shortage of teachers as fewer people pursue education degrees. According to the Indiana Department of Education, the number of first-time teacher licenses issued by the state has dropped 63 percent since 2010.

w.Peng.Teacher Shortage 4Borto oversaw much of the hiring and said she saw evidence of that drop.

“What we found this year was that there weren’t as many new teaching candidates right out of college; we didn’t have as many of those candidates as we have (had) in the past,” Borto said.

English department chairperson Kimberly Walker said she understands why there may be fewer candidates.

“Teachers have always been well-respected, but their demands have increased since the past; it’s beyond just the 183 days of school. This responsibility might discourage people who would’ve wanted to become teachers from actually pursuing a career in education,” Walker said. “Attitudes about teaching have changed since the past.”

Walker said the English department added six teachers this year, more than any other department. One of them was Mackenzie Burchett, who started her teaching career at CHS this year.w.Peng.Teacher Shortage 3

“I think that there’s been a lot of change implemented recently at the state level with evaluations and how to quantify how effective a teacher is, and it’s really disrupted the pattern of what teachers have been doing for years and years and years.

“I don’t necessarily think it’s for the worse. I think a lot of changes were necessary, but for those who have been in the game for a really long time, they weren’t used to it and it was a lot of proving you’re effective, not just being effective, and I think that pushed a lot of teachers into early retirement and scared a lot of new teachers away once they heard all the horror stories,” Burchett said.

Despite the teacher shortage in other school districts, teachers may be drawn to CHS for its prestige.

“(CHS is) the best,” Burchett said. “It’s got the best reputation in the state.”

Freshman Caroline Meador said, “Even with the shortage, I think Carmel has necessities, too. They just may have better means to meet their necessities.”w.Peng.Teacher Shortage 1

Similar to many other CHS students, Meador has a schedule that  includes a new teacher. Meador’s French I teacher is Ellen Anderson, who is new to CHS.

Meador said she believes adding new teachers is important, despite the shortage. As a transfer from Sycamore School, Meador said CHS’s large size was initially a shock, but hiring the new teachers was a necessary step.

“It’s important to have diverse teachers who have been here a different number of years, so I think new teachers are important,” Meador said.

According to Borto, adding new teachers not only allows CHS to support its growth in students, but also benefits the learning experience for students.

“Anytime you add new staff, it’s exciting because they come with ideas and new experiences and new perspectives,” Borto said. “And I think anytime you can add that into a discussion, there’s benefit to that. . .it’s always helpful to hear other perspectives and experiences, and it’s always going to make our conversations richer and the experience for our kids that much richer as well.”

Burchett said this experience encouraged her to pursue an education degree, in spite of the recent decline.

“I come from a family of teachers, so it’s always been on my radar, but I had a teacher named Mr. Phil that I had when I was in high school and he was awesome and inspiring,” she said.

According to Walker, the addition of the new teachers will benefit CHS students.

Walker said, “I think a lot of our new teachers are very different; they bring a lot of different experiences, and so the positive impact it will have is that it offers more variety for our students and the way which they learn.”

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