Finding and keeping good teachers - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Finding and keeping good teachers

May 22, 2006

Albany - - Many new teachers coming into the profession just can't stand the heat. According to the National Education Association, half of all new teachers quit within their first five years.

Radium Springs Elementary teacher, Harlan Porter just wrapped up his first year.

"Just walking down the hall and having their attention and having the quietness that I want and knowing that I was the leader of these 25 plus children."

Memories that helped him realize he wouldn't have it any other way. He's breaking down his classroom and getting it ready for next year. Teachers like Porter are rare.

Nationally, not only is there a shortage of teachers, there's also a need for good male teachers. According to the National Education Association, men make up barely a quarter of all teachers - and that's the lowest it's been in four decades. That's part of why Porter does this.

"Certain things like how a man is supposed to carry himself or the kind of speech a man is supposed to use they never experienced that before. A lot of them don't have fathers at home."

Dougherty County Schools are looking for more like him. So they hold job fairs each year, travel to different colleges, offer a relocation bonus to some teachers moving from outside of the area, and reimburse costs for important teacher certification exams - all of this to find good teachers and keep them.

"I feel privileged to be in a position where I can be a positive example to so many children."

The school system doesn't have to worry about losing this one anytime soon.

"Oh yeah, I definitely want to come back. I'll be back next year."

In fact, he's preparing to get his Master's Degree in Early Education. 

The National Education Association also says the percentage of African-American teachers is the lowest its been in more than 30 years. The N.E.A. found states with higher salaries tend to attract the most men.

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