Teacher turnover in Central Georgia | News
Growing up Robin Cowart always wanted to teach. "I played school with my dolls and yea I definitely had a desire in my heart to be a teacher," she said.
She loved teaching high school English. "Incredibly fun we would talk about human behavior and literary elements and plot and character," said Cowart.
Then came Cowart's plot twist, motherhood. She said job stress started to diminish her quality of life and she couldn't focus on her daughter Sydney as much as she'd like.
"Give 'em a bath, read 'em a book, put 'em to bed, and then I would be up until late into the evening, even beyond that grading papers, putting together lesson plans," she added.
Cowart said teaching was a never ending siege on her time. A national survey of educators by the US Department of Education shows that nearly 50 percent of teachers leave the profession within their first five years. That's exactly what Cowart did.
Now she works in underwriting at the Georgia Farm Bureau.
"I miss the students, I missed the people I worked with and yea that intrinsic value of that feeling you get that you're making a difference," she said.
Bibb County Interim Superintendent Steve Smith said teacher turnover is cause for concern and that it's costly to train new teachers, to the tune of $30, 000 for workshops and materials.
Although Bibb doesn't keep track of who leaves the profession, Smith believes it's due, in part, to morale and ever-changing demands.
"We moved from the QCCs or the Quality Core Curriculum, to the Georgia Performance Standards, and now we move into the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards. Now they're even talking about moving away from the common core and moving to something else. Those things frustrate teachers. It takes training every time you change the curriculum," he said.
And while the requirements increase. Pay doesn't. The average starting teacher salary in Georgia for the 2012-2013 school year was $33,664, the previous school year it was $33,673.That's according to the National Education Association.
Howard High School math teacher and department chair Kevin Adams, a 13-year veteran, works four jobs to support his family.
"'Pay has basically gone down through various methods over the past five years with the cost of living increasing. We got very used to two-percent cost of living raise year after year and we haven't gotten that in quite some time," he said. "And then on top of that, most people are aware that we get furloughed. We have I think at least seven furloughs this year, that adds up real fast."
Early in his career Adams considered quitting.
"But when it came down to decision time I realized that's where my passion was. It's that I was really driven to be an educator and thought that I could make a difference," he said.
He says it's disheartening when fellow teachers leave. He wants to move into a role where he can encourage them to stay.
"As an administrator I can impact all the teachers in the building and therefore all the students in the building," said
Cowart said teachers could use some extra support. "We have counselors for students, we might need counselors for teachers too. It might be helpful," she said.
Adams agrees that teachers need a boost. "If you have teachers that have low morale, that's bad for the students. We have to have teachers that are excited about their job, they're excited to come to work each day because they know that they're gonna make a difference in somebody's life," he said.
Bibb County School District is having a teacher recruitment fair on March 8 from 9 a.m. to noon at Westside High School.