UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (WJLA) — Students don’t return to Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) until Aug. 29, but for new teachers, the classwork is underway.
PGCPS still faces a teacher shortage which numbers in the hundreds. The stresses of the pandemic have driven educators into retirement or new careers but that isn’t the whole story says the system’s director of professional learning and leadership.
"While there is a shortage across the nation, we still have people who are willing and able and enthusiastic about teaching our young people so we’re really excited about that," said Dr. Kristy Holden.
A total of 1,000 new school system teachers, split between two high schools, were at orientation on Wednesday. WJLA met people like Jonathan Livas who's making a career change to become an educator.
"There’s not a lot of young male African-American teachers on board and these kids need to see they can be leaders," said Livas.
And Journee Jones, who said this is what she was meant to do.
"I’m very excited and we need teachers like it's very important to have people who have actually have a passion to teach," said Jones.
These new hires know the system is short hundreds of teachers. They know experienced teachers have quit over workload issues and they know they’ll be in one of only a handful of school systems in the country with a mask mandate.
But, on this day, none is deterred.
"It’s just life and you gotta learn how to conquer it, get over it" said Miysharie Pritchett. "That’s what I’m trying to tell these students."
"I’m up for the challenge," said Livas.
The administrator who heads up this new teacher induction process doesn’t deny the new school year will bring challenges including, a severe staffing shortage, but she says days like today show there is plenty of good to talk about as well.
"To see a smile on a child’s face because they actually learned what you’re trying to teach is priceless you can't get paid for that," said Dr. Holden.