Staffing shortages remain a concern throughout Hampton Roads; 2 public school districts hold job fair

teacher stress
Posted at 5:56 PM, Jan 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-26 14:50:35-05

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - Staffing shortages! They’re a concern in every school district in Hampton Roads. Now, two public school districts have raised the bar by inviting potential employees to a job fair.

News 3 met with school district leaders here in Williamsburg, and and WJCC Schools anticipates hiring about 150 full-time teachers for the 22-23 school year.

But as they also try and fill these empty spots, William and Mary students are stepping in to help.

Felecia Hayes, a third grade student teacher, said, "We're seeing a lot of teachers that are feeling burnt out, underappreciated, and COVID is just adding more stressors."

Hayes is a student at William and Mary working to get her credentials to become a full-time teacher. Although she's a student teacher right now, she said there's a huge need for more teachers.

"This shortage doesn't just affect teachers - which is affecting teachers at a large scale - but it's affecting a lot of the people who run the school," said Hayes.

To help tackle this issue, Williamsburg-James City County Schools is having a job fair to fill not only teacher positions, but they are recruiting for bus drivers, bus aides, custodians, cafeteria workers, substitute teachers, substitute teachers assistants, substitute nurses, and substitute homebound teachers.

Tim Baker, WJCC Senior Director of Human Resources, said, "There's less teachers going into teacher prep programs like at colleges, and there's less and less teachers going into the profession - and that's nationwide, so that's a challenge."

"As much as there's a teacher shortage and a bus driver shortage and all of this, there's also a substitute teacher shortage to the point where one of our supervisors today was just telling us about there are professors coming in and being substitute teachers; there are parents that are trying to help," said Pearl Gates, a kindergarten student teacher.

According to Baker, right now, the district's substitute fill-in rate sits at 50% compared to about 90% pre-pandemic, which is relatively low, school leaders said.

"I'm definitely not going to be deterred by whatever hurdles I have to jump over to get there, but I also feel William and Mary has helped us learn to be advocates for the profession and know our worth," said Gates.

The job fair will take place Friday from 9 a.m. to noon at 117 Ironbound Road in Williamsburg and the York County Annual Jamboree on February 5. Click here for information on how to apply.

Related: Virginia Beach Public Schools lays out latest COVID-19 protocols while struggling with staffing in the new year