PE Has Numerous Teaching Vacancies

Published 11:56 am Thursday, June 25, 2015

PRINCE EDWARD — There will be more than a few new faces when children go back to school in August.

Prince Edward, factoring retirements (seven) and resignations (22) for teachers, had 29 vacancies at the end of the year — 25 of which will be filled. Four positions will not be filled due to budget cuts.

“We’ve advertised heavily on the Internet, on all the major papers in Virginia — actually through the Virginia Press Association — and also Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and North Carolina,” Superintendent Dr. David Smith said. “And, of course, the large box ads that we place in The Herald. So we are planning to have all positions filled by the time school opens.”

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The superintendent said they are “making really good progress.”

Turnover is lower than the previous year, when there were 28 resignations and 12 retirements.

“Like every other school division, we are in need of math and science teachers,” Smith said. “That’s the biggest single need, and I think you’d find that for most school divisions. So that’s the one difficulty, the challenge in finding — and that’s why we advertise so widely because we know there aren’t as many applicants in the job market in math and science as many other subject areas.”

At the administrative level, he reported, all vacancies have been filled, “and we think it’s a great team going forward.”.

As previously reported by The Herald, the elementary and middle schools will have new principals. Carolyn Jones, a native of Nottoway County who had served as Prince Edward’s elementary school assistant principal, will take over for Amy McCurdy, who plans to return to Georgia. Tamantha “Tammy” Hurt will move from her middle school assistant principal’s position in Mecklenburg to the principal’s seat at Prince Edward Middle School. She takes over for a retiring Lucy Carson.

The school board has also filled a vacant elementary school assistant principal position with the appointment of middle school science teacher Shelly Clark-Reed.

“The numbers vary pretty widely year to year,” Smith said when asked if he is concerned with the turnover in back-to-back years. “I think in every school division, folks are concerned about turnover. Regardless of the numbers, high or low, it’s always a challenge to find well-qualified … candidates for hiring. And, so from that standpoint, yeah, we’re always concerned.”

Every year, he said, they hire several teachers from Longwood – and wish there were more were available from the university. Prince Edward is able to retain some of the student teachers working in the school division.

“…That’s especially gratifying when they’re students from out of the area or out of the state and, because of living in [the] Farmville area for either four or five years during their undergraduate or five-year degree, they find that they really like the area and they make the choice to stay here,” Smith said. “That is especially gratifying.”

One of the strongest things the division has developed in the last two years, he said, is a yearlong mentoring program for all new teachers. In addition to monthly full group meetings and training sessions, each new teacher is paired with an experienced teacher to work closely with throughout the year. The school division also provides professional development and on-the-job training organized around specific topics of need for the teaching staff.

The superintendent added that they make every effort to get new teachers involved in the life of the school, committee work, decisions that are made, and the planning process.

There are some occasions, however, when the teacher is not a good fit.

“Sometimes, in any line of work, employees will learn after a period of time that they may feel like a better fit somewhere else. The larger number always, though, is the group that makes a right decision and stays in place and serves the — in our case — the children of Prince Edward County,” Smith said.