MMSD making last-minute push to hire new teachers before the upcoming school year

The district has about 140 teacher job openings one week before school starts
The district has about 140 teacher job openings one week before school starts.
Published: Aug. 25, 2022 at 10:39 AM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - As the new school year gets underway, many districts across the country are experiencing a teacher shortage, including the Madison Metropolitan School District. MMSD is now actively trying to recruit some last-minute hires. School starts for all students on September 2nd.

MMSD had 571 teaching vacancies before the new school year. That’s the most vacancies since 2017, according to the district. Administrators hired more than 400 teachers to fill the void. Still, there are about 140 teaching positions still open.

“We are going to push to continue to hire people all the way up to school,” said Dr. Carlton Jenkins, the superintendent of schools.

“They are doing so much work in the district in terms of supporting their students,” said Michel Weston, a teacher new to the district.

Weston was a teacher for several years in a different district but left the profession because she felt burned out. She then felt a calling to come back.

“I’m excited, I’m overwhelmed about it, if I’m honest. It’s a stressful job,” she said.

As to why there is a teacher shortage at the moment, Weston believes the profession can be a daunting task for anyone to take on.

“The burnout is real,” she said. “It’s no secret that the expectations of teachers is very high and the pay is not great. So, I would say people with similar skill sets are going elsewhere where they make more money.”

“We definitely need more teachers in Wisconsin,” said Karena Curtis, a math instructor at Madison College. Curtis also helps run a program that brings in high school students interested in becoming K-12 teachers. They can earn college credit for free while still in high school.

“It’s definitely disheartening because I see a lot of really good teachers leaving the profession probably earlier than they would want to,” said Curtis. “But I love at 16 they (high school students) have kind of already decided that maybe this is what they want to do and want to pursue.”

“I love to be able to even have the possibility of having an impact on someone, it warms my heart so much,” said Evelyn Washburn, a junior at Middleton High School enrolled in the teacher program at Madison College.

Washburn says she always knew she wanted to be a teacher.

“I have never felt more fulfilled in anything other than teaching, I’m a teacher now. I teach recreational theater,” she said.

She wants to help mold young minds in the future, but knows it comes with plenty of responsibility.

“I think the idea of having such an impact on people is a very powerful thing, but it’s also very scary,” she said. “Because you can have a positive impact on people, but you can also have a negative impact on people and either can be everlasting.”

MMSD superintendent Dr. Carlton Jenkins believes his district will have a "breakthrough" year...
MMSD superintendent Dr. Carlton Jenkins believes his district will have a "breakthrough" year in 2022-2023(Tim Elliott)

MMSD hosted an orientation for the 400 plus new teacher hires. The event took place August 18th and 19th. The energy is the room is full of optimism and promise.

“It feels like family here,” said Danielle Johnson, Emotional Learning Welcoming Schools Teacher Leader for MMSD.

Johnson says the teaching profession --as a whole-- just needs a little more love.

“I think if we put more value into what our teachers bring to the table and pay them for it, that would make a difference,” said Johnson. “Also, educators are overwhelmed, and they have a lot of work to do and so their needs aren’t being met.”

Dr. Jenkins is confident that despite the teacher shortage, his district will get the job done.

“Madison is a great city, we have great staff, and we are looking for people who want to come here and be a transformer,” said Dr. Jenkins. “Someone who can have an impact on a child’s life, not just someone who can teach content, that’s not the person we are looking for, not for this job. If you want to be the best you can be and be authentic, come to MMSD.”

MMSD is hosting an in-person job fair Thursday August 25th from 5 until 8pm. The job fair is taking place at the Holtzman building at 333 Holtzman Rd., Madison, located just off of Rimrock Road.