CARMI, Ill. (WEHT)- It’s an eye-opening stat: 77 percent of Illinois school districts are dealing with a teacher shortage.
For rural schools like Lincoln Attendance Center in Carmi, that shortage is being felt especially hard. Dr. Amy Dixon serves as the principal at Lincoln Attendance Center as well as nearby Jefferson Attendance Center. Dr. Dixon notes that while she may have had up to 50 applications for the average elementary school position. Now? Dixon says she’s lucky if she has five applications.
Luckily for Dixon and Lincoln Attendance Center, they have been able to find first-time teachers like Kaylea Chappelle and MaKenze Atteberry. Chappelle, who moved to Carmi as a grade schooler, says she can’t imagine doing anything other than teaching, calling it the best job in the world.
Atteberry, a native of eastern Tennessee, moved to Carmi with her husband but she says the teacher shortage has opened up positions for friends in Tennessee.
The teaching shortage is grabbing the attention of organizations like Golden Apple, who have been working to find ways to mitigate the shortage, including finding people already in communities like Carmi who are willing to become teachers.
Golden Apple president Alan Mather says that by 2025, there could be as many as 200,000 open positions across the country, especially in rural and urban areas. Dr. Dixon says the shortage isn’t limited to teachers. Dixon says the number of people in Illinois who completed the process to become principals dropped from 2600 in 2009 to 300 in 2019.
(This story was originally published on April 16, 2021)