As students prepare to head back to class this fall, some school districts are scrambling to fill teaching positions amid a nationwide shortage of instructors.
Jason Kamras is the superintendent of Richmond Public Schools in Virginia.
"We are seeing unprecedented numbers of teachers leaving the profession all across the country," Kamras said.
In June, a member survey of the American Federation of Teachers revealed a more than 30% rise in job dissatisfaction since 2020, with 38% of teachers considering leaving their jobs in the next one to two years.
For many teachers, pandemic burnout, low pay and rising housing costs are the driving factors behind their departure from the classroom.
"The kids were the only thing that made that decision really hard. Would you stay in your job if you're not paid enough based on your education and experience?" said Christy Foust, a former teacher in Pinellas County.
With classes scheduled to resume in just a few weeks, many school districts are turning to substitutes for help.
"We're working on establishing a strong substitute pool, looking at really small classes that we might be able to combine so we could close out a vacancy," Kamras said.
Alison Perkins-Cohen is the chief of staff at Baltimore City Public Schools.
"The long-term subs, we are really working with those individuals and trying to make sure that as many people in that pool as possible are interested in serving this year, and we're calling them individually to try to make sure that we're getting as many of those folks signed up and ready to meet our students' needs as possible," Perkins-Cohen said.
The district is offering incentives to catch teachers' attention.
"We've done things like trying to create more wellness afternoons for teachers. It's also about making sure that you're giving teachers time for a break. Teaching in this environment right now is really challenging and so we want to make sure we're giving our teachers time for a break," she continued.
Some incentives are financially driven.
"Experienced folks coming from 50 miles away could get up to $10,000 to come join the RPS family," Kamras said.
Others are even exploring the possibility of offering teachers affordable housing by converting under-capacity schools into staff housing.
"That's going to be an opportunity for our employees to have an opportunity for them to save a tremendous amount of money, but openly being able to give them a perk," said Addison Davis, superintendent of Hillsborough County Public Schools in Florida.
"When we look at 700-plus vacancies within our school districts instructionally, we've got to be able to find solutions to win the talent war."