DAVIS COUNTY, Utah (ABC4) – A nationwide teacher shortage has school districts scrambling to fill vacancies before the new year starts. Sadly, Utah schools are not immune to this shortage. However, the Davis School District is closer to filling all open teaching positions after hiring upwards of 400 new teachers before the new school year.
The new teachers attended orientation at Farmington High School. Elementary teachers attended their orientation on Tuesday and secondary teachers attended on Wednesday. On both days, students and administrators welcomed the new teachers with cheers, signs and a drum line as they walked into the school.
“I started in statistics and moved to teaching,” Aimee Gorden tells ABC4. Gorden is one of the new teachers to join the school district this year. Naturally, she’ll be teaching remedial math to junior high students. She said she’s excited to start the year and hopes her excitement is contagious. “And hopefully spark a little love of math for some people who don’t like it already,” she says laughing.
The first days of school can be nerve-wracking for students and teachers alike.
“I know what it feels like to be anxious about your first year of school,” says Alisson Riddle. “I remember what it felt like every year after that to anticipate the kids that are coming in, and what my classroom would be like and how could I connect with the parents and the kids.”
Alisson Riddle was an elementary school teacher for 26 years. Now she serves as the elementary mentor for the school district. She adds, “I just use that energy of that memory to support new teachers.”
The ultimate goal is teacher retention.
In a time when so many are leaving the field, ABC4 asked Aimee Gorden if she had any second thoughts about becoming a teacher. She replied with a simple, “No.” She then followed by adding, “I know what I’m getting into, I think. There are so many other benefits that are not monetary benefits. I want the flexible schedule and enjoying what I do, really making a difference, and feeling appreciated like we see over here.”
The Davis School District is the second largest district in Utah. It has 72,000 students who attend classes across 92 schools. The district employs close to 10,000 people and of those employees, more than 3,000 are teachers.
Out of the newly hired teachers, 155 are first-year teachers (75 elementary teachers and 80 secondary teachers). The district reports that it still has over two dozen open teaching positions. Substitutes are lined up to fill in when needed at the beginning of the school year. The district is confident those vacancies will be filled quickly.