Teacher shortage hitting Mid-Michigan school districts

Michigan is facing a massive teacher shortage partly due to retirements. (Photo from Jesse Gonzales)

Julie Thompson and Lisa Wissinger are getting ready to start their first year teaching elementary school in Fenton.

Both Thompson and Wissinger have been teaching over a decade and over the last few years has seen the dramatic number of teachers retiring.

"I have seen a lot of teachers that have reached their prime and cap and are retiring and moving out of teaching, they put in their 30 years so there has been turning over in that respect," said teacher Julie Thompson.

According to the Michigan Education Association, a nationwide demand and supply gap is expected to grow by seventy-five percent from sixty-four thousand in 2015 to one hundred and twelve thousand by 2018.

"It's probably caused by a number of forces but in laymans terms, the baby boomers are now retiring creating vacancies and the pipeline of potential candidates to fill the vacancies has shrunk because the teaching vacancies weren't there to create the demand so we are now in a response mode," said Saginaw Valley State University Dean of Education Craig Douglas.

Ryan Leto is a senior at SVSU and is about to graduate and get his first teaching job.

Ryan hears from friends all the time telling him that teaching doesn't pay and there are so many other career options he should consider.

"I don't think you are in teaching to get rich, you are in it for the lifelong richness and make an experience and make an impact on the youth," said Leto.

The argument against teaching almost always comes down to money.

Fenton Superintendent Adam Hartley doesn't completely buy that argument, "I think there is this misconception that teachers don't get paid well and again I would argue if you look at comparisons and other careers, that well no one is going into teaching to become a millionaire it's still a good salary and benefits".

According to the Michigan Department of Education, the average salary for a teacher in the State of Michigan ranges from forty-seven thousand to sixty-four thousand dollars a year depending on several things including the size of the district.

The teachers we talked to admit they aren't going to become a millionaire being a teacher, but they say there are a lot of other rewards that can not be measured in a bank account.

"I enjoy going to work every day, it doesn't seem like I am punching in its 800 and I'm finished at 4, I go on and it already 3:00 we have to get ready, its something that never ends," said Wissinger.

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