HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — After teaching for six years, one former Henrico High School teacher has switched professions due to issues in the teaching industry.
Micah Fae Thomas taught English at Henrico High School and says she found her passion in teaching and interacting with students. However, she started to see flaws in the teaching profession throughout her experience. She says her reasoning for leaving had nothing to do with her students and staff. Instead, deeper systemic issues within the career field led her leave the classroom.
“It was, you know, the most fulfilling experience of my life,” Thomas said. “I still feel the most whole when I’m teaching.”
With an increase in teacher resignations and vacancies, many teachers like Thomas had to choose between their passion and pay.
“I had been teaching for six years. I had a master’s degree,” Thomas said. “I still made the same salary as I did year one.”
According to the National Center for Education statistics, wages for teachers have increased significantly in the past 50 years. However, when you factor in rising inflation, teacher pay is actually decreasing. This is why many teachers like Thomas say they have decided to switch paths.
To combat a rise in teacher vacancies, Governor Glenn Youngkin’s administration recently announced a campaign titled “Become a Teacher,” with the hopes to fill empty positions in the classroom. This comes not too long after Youngkin issued an executive directive saying the teacher licensure bar should be lowered.
The executive order says in part:
“Our children are still recovering from devastating learning loss and other effects of school shutdowns. We must pursue a comprehensive approach to supporting teacher recruitment and retention efforts.”
The goal with this executive order and campaign is to find alternative ways to recruit more teachers. In this case, it makes the application process easier for college graduates without a teaching license.
This is just one of many recent incentives that Thomas says targets new hires when veteran teachers need that same support.
“So when you say, ‘oh, anybody can come on in and come on, teach,’ what you are saying is ‘what these people do is glorified babysitting, what these people do isn’t actually all that hard. I could do that. You could do that. Anyone could do that,'” Thomas said.