The ESHS Viewpoint on Education in America

ESHS Educational Staff share their perspective on the teacher shortages happening in the nation.

America is facing an educational crisis unlike ever before. Across the nation, school staff of all levels are having a mass exodus. They leave their jobs for countless reasons, preferring a higher-paying, more flexible, and well-respected position in corporations or organizations. They take with them their skills of planning, adapting, constructively critiquing, and connecting. The United States is also seeing fewer and fewer students pursue a career in education, preferring a job with work-from-home capabilities and greater benefits. 

Elkhorn South is not immune to this epidemic; however, it is significantly better off than other parts of the country. To learn more about this catastrophe and how it has affected ESHS, the Storm Alert reached out to staff members about their perspectives on this dilemma. 

One thing many teachers agreed upon when talking about the teaching shortage and its effect on the Elkhorn Public Schools district was the substitute shortages that they battled. Finding subs can be difficult and the task falls to super-secretary Tina Rohe. However, when  a sub is nowhere to be found, teachers have to give up their plan periods to cover the class, which can be difficult.

“I don’t think the sub shortage has hit us as badly as it has in other districts, however, the effects are still felt. There are often days when teachers in the building are asked to cover a class during their plan period.  I subbed in AP Bio the other day, and my English background was not overly helpful! I’m thankful the teacher left good sub-notes,” English teacher Abby Magers said.

“Subs have also become more difficult to get because a lot of the subs we used to use have been hired by other districts to full-time positions,” chemistry teacher Jim Specht said. 

“Just the substitute issue alone is taxing on teachers. Often if an absence cannot be filled by a sub, a teacher from another class will have to use their plan period to fill in for that absence. When there is less time to plan, teachers will start taking more work home just so we can feel like we are adequately prepared,” Life Skills teacher Noah Zeitner said. 

Another issue a lot of teachers expressed was the level of respect from society as a whole for their profession. Elkhorn South teachers work many hours preparing lesson plans, grading assignments, and brainstorming unique ways to teach the material, and that’s not even counting the time spent actually working with students! It can feel a bit degrading to see their hard work looked down upon by outsiders who don’t see the effect they have on their students. 

“I believe that some of the national attacks on teachers and schools have impacted the profession negatively.  I do not see a clear solution to this problem, other than to plead with people to respect educators, ask questions, volunteer to help in your children’s education and trust that educators in Elkhorn are working day in and day out to help our students be successful in life,” Principal Mark Kalvoda said. 

“It seems from a variety of viewpoints that the profession of teaching doesn’t have the same level of respect and value that it may have had in the past,” instrumental music teacher Jake Senff shared. 

“I also think the respect for the profession from the community has to change as well.  I work with some of the best teachers out there, but they are tired and feel underappreciated by others,” math teacher Lindsay Aliano said. 

When speaking about how teaching is becoming a less and less sought after profession, many teachers shared that nationwide, the salary of a teacher is not enough to pay off the debt from their degrees, support their families, and live comfortably in a world where inflation is running rampant. 

“Teaching is a profession, so society as a whole needs to work toward treating and paying teachers like professionals if they want to keep attracting high-quality teacher candidates,” Media Specialist Kelsey Orr-Stevinson said. 

“It says a lot about how undervalued and underpaid teachers currently are. While we are lucky at Elkhorn Public Schools, it is still hard,” Spanish teacher Stephanie Stanley commented. 

However, even with all the struggles teaching can bring, the Elkhorn South educational staff still strives to inspire passion in students and prepare them to take on all the challenges this world has to offer. Staff members reflected positively on their careers and shared that the benefits of teaching something they love to amazing people makes it all worth it. 

“I love getting to know my students and witnessing their successes. There may be times of the year where I feel less motivated, but overall I still love teaching and working with students here at ESHS,” social studies teacher Abby Cleary said. 

“I love teaching with my whole heart and would still encourage anyone thinking about becoming a teacher to continue to pursue that dream.  We need good teachers and I know many of my current students who I think would be excellent teachers someday,” Magers noted.

“I do enjoy the fast-paced environment, working with and teaching students, and just the overall work family that the teaching profession has provided me. I never wanted a desk job where I just sat in front of a computer.  With teaching, you are always doing something and I love the interactions with teachers and students each and every day,” Aliano added. 

“Honestly, it is the greatest, most fulfilling profession in the world.  You have so much impact, kids are awesome to work with and every single day is different.  There are no boring days in education and having fellow teachers as colleagues makes work enjoyable, rewarding and collaborative.” Kalvoda remarked. 

When asked what they wanted to tell the next generation of teachers, Life Skills teacher Megan McCourt shared some important advice: “Don’t let the current atmosphere deter you from chasing your dreams. If teaching children, molding minds, and changing lives is what you want to do, keep pushing forward!”