Orangeburg County School District leaders fill teacher vacancies amid nationwide shortage

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Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 8:46 PM EDT
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ORANGEBURG, S.C. (WIS) - Amid a nationwide teaching shortage, Orangeburg County School Officials are making progress in filling teacher vacancies across the school district.

The Orangeburg County School District started the school year off with 162 vacant teacher positions across the district. The superintendent Dr. Shawn Foster tells me that’s the most he’s seen during his time with Orangeburg County Schools.

“A lot of them say they’re tired, they’re burnt out,” said Pamela Hampton, who applied to become a substitute teacher.

Pamela Hampton is looking to become a substitute teacher with the Orangeburg County School District, and she’s heard from former teachers just how difficult the job has become.

“Overwhelmed, I guess because of the classroom sizes,” said Pamela Hampton.

But that’s not stopping her from taking on the challenge. Nor has it stopped the 147 other teachers who stepped in to fill those vacant teacher positions.

“We’ve made some strategic moves in regards to being intentional about recruiting teachers but also trying to retain them trying to have those personal relationships and being accessible,” said Dr. Shawn Foster, Superintendent of Orangeburg County School District.

One of those strategic moves includes implementing two new programs. One of them is known as Recharge and it’s focused on recruiting teachers who are now retired.

“Some of them it has been several years and they’re returning. We also have other individuals returning from other districts other than the three consolidated districts and they are loving some of them even say they’re coming back next year,” said Sharon Hampton, Coordinator of Recruitment and Retention of Orangeburg County School District.

Sharon Hampton is the district’s coordinator for recruitment and retention. She says she started the Recharge initiative back in July of this year, but she also credits the Grow program for its work bringing in new teachers. That initiative is geared towards prospective teachers that didn’t receive their certifications because they were short a few points on state tests.

“You know there are individuals out there that have had several years of trying to past that test, and they always had the desire to teach, and once you have that desire to teach, that’s exactly what you want to do, and that’s just like with any career, and this was just like a window that opened for them with the growth program,”

Sharon Hampton, Coordinator of Recruitment and Retention, Orangeburg County School District.

Dr. Shawn Foster says school leaders have also been offering sign-on bonuses as an incentive to bring more teachers on board. Bonuses start at 3 thousand dollars and go up to 5 thousand depending on a person’s experience, but he says the work to retain these teachers will go far beyond the extra dollars.

“I believe it starts with giving teachers a voice, and that position that role is a conduit to hear from teachers where she’s already strategically set up. Kind of like sunshine or a recruitment retention individual where they go to gain ideas and thoughts of what teachers are feeling,” said Dr. Shawn Foster, Superintendent, Orangeburg County Schools.

Dr. Foster says they are working to put a recruitment and retainment position in each district.

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