With a high turnover rate of teachers, it can be challenging to fill open positions.
The state Department of Education is trying to fix this problem by increasing recruitment efforts, providing mentoring programs for teachers and by strengthening partnerships with organizations such as Hawaii State Teachers Association.
“Filling teacher vacancies is a high priority as Hawaii shares in the nationwide trend of fewer numbers of individuals entering the teaching profession,” said Derek Inoshita, HIDOE spokesman.
There is already a mentoring program in place to help teachers who are either new to the profession or new to Kauai to help them adjust to working and living on the island.
Caroline Freudig, Kauai Teacher Induction Program coordinator, told The Garden Island in a previous interview new teachers meet with mentors once a week to discuss and solve problems in the classroom.
According to Freudig, some teachers are coming in with degrees that haven’t prepared them for a classroom setting, which is why the mentor program is so important to improving the quality of teaching.
“This additional system of support helps to accelerate teacher development, teaching effectiveness and reduce turnover,” Inoshita said.
Corey Rosenlee, HSTA president, told TGI improvement is needed.
“When it comes to staff success, they’re (HIDOE) really are not looking at the core problems of what is occurring in the state of Hawaii and especially on Kauai, where there is a high teacher turnover,” Rosenlee said. “There are students that go to class everyday who don’t have a qualified teacher.”
The mission to increase recruitment efforts is a part of the state’s three-year strategic plan, which is set to go into effect this upcoming school year, and to also retain teachers.
According to the plan’s 2020 goals, the HIDOE wants to fill 98 percent of teacher positions and have 60 percent of those teachers retained until at least the fifth year of their employment.
On Kauai, teacher turnover is high but according to Complex-Area Superintendent Bill Arakaki, the Garden Isle only had four full-time and one part-time positions vacant at the start of this past school year.
A big part of keeping job positions filled on Kauai has been the “Growing Our Own Teachers on Kauai” program, which supports and retains its educators. The state’s new plan also indicates further support of these “growing our own” types of programs on the neighbor islands and Oahu.