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St. Lucie Public Schools aims to hire more than 200 teachers

Education leaders project more than 9,000 teaching vacancies statewide
A job fair for St. Lucie Public Schools on July 7, 2022.jpg
Posted at 4:02 PM, Jul 07, 2022

ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. — Florida is facing a massive teacher shortage before the new school year begins.

State education leaders project more than 9,000 teaching vacancies with fewer college students graduating with education degrees.

But our local school districts are trying to fill every spot they can.

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From elementary to middle school to high school, St. Lucie Public Schools has more than 200 teaching jobs to fill before school starts next month.

It's called the "summer frenzy," the busiest time to get educators in the door and on staff for the new school year.

"I'm feeling amazing. I'm so excited. I can’t wait to dip my feet in and do something different. I'm really excited," said Rianon Barnhart, the newest science teacher at Oak Hammock K-8 School.

Barnhart had an on-the-spot interview and job offer Thursday during St Lucie County's Teacher and Paraprofessional Job Fair.

"Immediately when I came in, I was pulled by a couple different people like, come interview, come interview. And they didn’t even know who I was," Barnhart said. "So their enthusiasm helped my enthusiasm and I'm really, really excited."

Teacher candidate Anthony Hadden has an interview lined up at the high school he attended as a student.

"The classroom is a way to give back to the community at large, enrich students so they are the next generation of future leaders," Hadden said.

Human resources director Marla Gutierrez said St. Lucie Public Schools added an additional 60 positions this school year, making the district's teaching vacancy numbers a little higher than normal.

"Some ESE which is exceptional student education and some interventionist teachers that we’ve also added to address some of the learning losses that we experienced during the pandemic," Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez added the district is trying to recruit people from all different educational backgrounds and make teachers feel supported once they are hired.

"We have a new teacher induction program to make sure people aren’t lost and unable to navigate education, because it is difficult and there are an awful lot of expectations on people today," Gutierrez said.

It's not an easy time to be a teacher, from dealing with the stress of COVID-19, culture wars playing out in the classroom, and low pay compared to the rest of the country.

But these classroom leaders said that won't stop them.

"I just think my mindset is staying focused on my students," Barnhart said. "If I stay focused on their success and making sure they get what they need, everything else will fall into place and be background noise."

"Passion is contagious. Just watch me work," said teacher Nikki Hart. "Don’t worry about the testing, don’t worry about all the things, all the data. Come in and do your job and love your babies. Everything else will work out."

Here is information about upcoming job fairs in all of our local school districts: