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The Campus Times

The Campus Times

Teachers are burning out faster than wood in a wildfire

Your child’s education may be next
Hailey Shank is a senior at Campbellsville University.

The teacher shortage started out as a small flame in 2015, but now it’s a raging forest fire. The need for teachers is crucial right now. So crucial it has even reached the attention of the White House. Students’ learning abilities and reading skills are at risk more than ever.

I am a strong believer that teachers are underpaid. Teachers help create and shape us into the people we are, and that’s why I think it’s important that they should be paid more. They spend hours with children getting to know them, shaping their personalities, while figuring out the best ways to teach each student and meet their needs in the classroom. Some teachers even go the extra mile to help students who struggle at home or with financial needs.

I know for a fact that if I didn’t have my fifth-grade teacher, Kim Monthei, I wouldn’t be here at Campbellsville University on a full ride for running. The impact she had on me as a child during the hardest part of my life changed my life forever. She helped me have a better understanding of what was going on during my life at that time. She became my role model and gave me hope that everything would be okay. During that time, my parents were too focused on the custody battle and would always call child protective services on one another. So, Mrs. Montheis’ classroom became a safe space for me. If I needed help with homework, she would help me with my homework. If I needed a shoulder to cry on, I had hers. She stepped in when I needed an adult figure the most. I will always be grateful that she was put into my life.

Another teacher I am forever grateful for and who was always there for me when I needed help the most was my high school gym teacher and flag football coach Melinda Durrance. During my senior year, I was very poor and didn’t make a lot of money at my job because I could only work on the weekends. I was using a very old and worn-down pair of Nikes for gym class and track practice. I was broke and couldn’t afford new athletic shoes, so I just kept on wearing them. Mrs. Durrance noticed one day and asked me:

“What size shoe do you wear?”
“I wear a size 8 or 8.5 depending on the shoe brand, why,” I said.
“Well, I want you to pick out any shoe online and I will order them for you,” Mrs. Durrance told me.
She ended up buying me two pairs of shoes just to make sure that I had a pair that fit.

That’s not the only thing Mrs. Durrance did for me. She bought me a new set of tires for my car because I couldn’t afford them. I had a lot of family problems going on during my senior year, but Mrs. Durrance made it easier for me. I ended up having to move into my grandmother’s house during the beginning of my senior year. One month before I graduated, she kicked me out. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to graduate, but Mrs. Durrance swooped in again and made sure I was able to.

Teachers like Mrs. Durrance and Mrs. Monthei are prime examples of teachers who will go the extra mile without any hesitation. They care for their students’ mental and physical needs. Educators like them help set positive and welcoming tones in the classroom, encourage students’ curiosity and find ways to help students even when they are struggling. Sadly, teachers like them are leaving the education field for many reasons.

According to a report from the Kentucky Legislature’s Office of Education Accountability, (OEA) “teacher turnover in Kentucky rose in 2023, with 10.9% of teachers leaving the profession compared to 8.9% on average over the previous nine years.” Teachers are leaving the education field due to low salaries, increase in workload, classes doubling in size and bad behaviors are worsening in the classrooms. Due to the teacher shortage, some schools have had to resort to online teaching because they aren’t able to find certified teachers to teach in person classes. Students are now lacking that one-on-one learning from teachers. I think all children deserve the right to equal education.

According to a CNN report, “As states lower the certification standards to become a teacher, education experts worry these tactics could delay students’ recovery from pandemic learning loss.” The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, (UNESCO) released a report stating that more than one million children have fallen below minimum proficient reading levels since the pandemic. I believe the main reason for these results is because schools can’t afford high-quality teachers who love working in the education field and who truly care about their students. The only solution I see to this problem is increasing teacher salaries. President Biden, who has spoken publicly about this issue, said, “And if we want to draw more bright, talented people into the field, if we want educators to be able to do what they do best, we have to give them the pay and the support they need.”

Inflation has caused teachers to require a second or third job to maintain stability for themselves. If we don’t stop teachers from leaving or figure out a way to bring new certified teachers in, students won’t only suffer in reading but soon they will fall below proficient levels in all areas of academics. School may no longer be taught in person but taught fully online. Teachers need to be paid more so schools can afford great mentors and educators for their students. We need great educators such as Mrs. Monthei and Mrs. Durrance who motivates kids in the classroom to build a successful future for them, even when the children don’t see one for themselves.

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About the Contributor
Hailey Shank

Hailey Shank is a writer and photographer for The Campus Times. This is her second semester working for the student-led newspaper. She’s also worked one semester with 88.7 FM The Tiger.

Shank, who is from Indian River, Michigan, will be graduating in May as a fifth-year senior. She is double majoring in art and mass communication, with an emphasis in photojournalism. She’s attending Campbellsville University on a full ride athletic scholarship for cross country and track. She currently holds several school records, including the record for the fastest indoor 5K and 1K.

Shank also plays for an intramural volleyball team at CU, and is a member of Tuesday Night Live, a ministry of Campus Ministries.

Shank completed a journalism internship during the summer of 2023, working as a writer and photographer for the Monroe County Press in Michigan. She is currently completing an art internship as a social media assistant for the art program. In her free time, Shank manages her photography business and works on her art skills whenever she can.

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