School district looking outside of education to fill teaching positions.

Published: Mar. 6, 2017 at 6:12 PM CST
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Matthew Birmingham is wrapping up the day's lesson. He teaches AP Human Geography and Latin at Arnold High School.

"I was hired as a Latin teacher after passing the hardest test I've ever taken in my life!" Birmingham said.

He believes teaching Latin is worthwhile.

"Everything you know about English, about politics, that all comes from the Romans," he said.

Plus, the district really needed him. Latin is one of the district's Critical Shortage Areas, meaning the teaching position has few qualified applicants.

"People don't go to college saying, 'Man I wanna be a Latin teacher, I wanna make those big bucks!'" Birmingham said, laughing.

Other areas in need of teachers include upper level math and reading, visual and hearing impaired, biology, chemistry and physics.

"Everybody is struggling for teachers," Sharon Michalik, the Human Resources Director for Bay District Schools, said.

Michalik said the problem is statewide and believes the state should help pay teachers more. She said it seems as though not as many people want to be teachers anymore.

"I think society as a whole doesn't hold teachers in the same esteem that they used to," she said.

Plus, newly hired teachers also have to pass the general knowledge test within a year of teaching. But Michalik said only 32 percent of test-takers pass the exam.

"I believe in accountability," she said. "But I'm not sure we need a test that has a 32 percent pass rate as a gate keeper."

She said she'll be meeting with soon-to-be college graduates looking for more teachers like Birmingham who have college degrees in fields outside of education.

Michalik believes they'll be able to bring something special to the classroom with their experience.

"Almost anything can be parlayed into a teaching certificate," she said.

Bonus money is available for teachers like Birmingham (whose degree is in social studies), to teach in those needed areas. They're also available to veteran teachers willing to work in other subject areas.