Albany -- With the start of the school year, first year teachers are getting settled into their new jobs. But statistics show that 40 percent of them will change professions within five years. Now Southwest Georgia school are working to keep their teachers in education.
36 year old Anna Miller feels right at home teaching Algebra at Westover High School. Miller said "They're great kids. Behavior is good. All expectations are good."
Miller graduated from Westover herself in 1988. She was a human resources manager for an Albany electric company, when she decided she wanted to teach. Miller said her new co-workers help impressed her. Miller said "Coming from the business world, a lot of times it's take after self, look after self. Here they are very supportive."
33 year old Natalie Thomas has her health science technology class helping the American Red Cross with their blood drive. Thomas said "You have to maintain their interest. There are so many distractions."
A nurse, Thomas decided she wanted to teach, and has been able to combine her two loves. She says her mentor assigned by the school has helped guide her through the first weeks. Thomas said "Assist me to settling in to teaching. Thus far all the experiences have been good."
Westover High Principal Gene Melvin said Georgia has worked hard to recruit professionals like Thomas and Miller to teaching. Now the school system wants to make sure they want to stay. Melvin said "If they are the people we are looking for, we want to keep them as long as we possibly can."
The first year on any job can be the hardest, but Miller said she has had only one surprise so far back at her alma mater. Miller said " The school lunches are excellent. Far better than I remembered them being."
Georgia is trying to ease an expected teacher shortage, by better preparing and backing their new teachers as they hit the classrooms. Thomas said "I think that I will stick with this."
So that less educators quit after those first years.
Both teachers say pay was not a big consideration in their career changes. First year teachers in Dougherty County make about 30- thousand dollars a year.