- File: Thom Glick
Vermont kids and parents may be ready for classes to begin this fall, but whether schools will be fully prepared to welcome them is still unclear. Superintendents and school leaders nationwide have been sounding the alarm for months that they're having a hard time hiring and keeping teachers and support staff, in part because of pandemic-related burnout.
"'Never seen it this bad': America faces catastrophic teacher shortage," reported the Washington Post on August 3. Vermont schools are struggling, too, as Seven Days staff writer Alison Novak reported in July.
Jay Nichols, executive director of the Vermont Principals' Association, told Novak that "principals and teachers and superintendents take on a lot of stress and a lot of pressure, and we have more and more people who are leaving those fields all the time. It's at the crisis point nationally, and Vermont is not immune."
Schools around the state have been trying everything they can think of to retain and entice educators and support staff, from offering retention bonuses to negotiating with landlords about housing, Novak reported. Some Northeast Kingdom parents have even spent their own money to advertise job openings in rural districts.
I've seen announcements for school job fairs in Burlington, Winooski and Colchester this summer promoting on-the-spot interviews and job offers.
Novak, a former elementary school teacher — and the former managing editor of Kids VT — covers the K-12 education beat for Seven Days. She'll be following the staffing story and its ripple effects in the coming months as the school year gets under way. Let's hope that we don't have to deputize college students or military veterans, or recruit teachers from overseas to instruct our kids, emergency measures that have passed or are being used in Arizona, Florida and Alaska, respectively.
This fall issue of Kids VT focuses on some of the unique learning experiences available to Vermont kids and families outside of traditional classrooms. In "Gi Force," Ken Picard visits a Williston gym run by a Brazilian jiu-jitsu master. Cat Cutillo explores the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum's boatbuilding program in "Vermont Visionaries." And in "Join the Club," Fairfax parent Alice Scannell explains how she used the Good Citizen Challenge, a youth civics project organized by Kids VT and Seven Days, as a road map to guide an afterschool program for her middle school-age son and his friends.
For parents of babies and toddlers too young for kindergarten, Burlington mom Julie Garwood offers some tried and true advice: Head to your local library. She explains all they have to offer in "More Than Just Books."
We hope this issue inspires you and your family to embrace autumn in Vermont and all it offers. People travel from around the country to see our state during this spectacular season. All we have to do is go for a drive or take a walk around the neighborhood. Lucky us!