May 7, 2013 11:57 PM by Erin Steuber
New teachers in classrooms across Acadiana...that's how the school year is going to start, after hundreds of experienced educators have called it quits. From administrators to teachers, there are more than 200 job openings in schools across Acadiana, but that number is expected to rise. And with UL graduation right around the corner, many students are eager to fill those spots. But how will they stack up in comparison to the experienced teachers leaving the classrooms this year?
For as long as she can remember Ella Cointot knew she wanted to be a teacher.
"Ever since I was a child, I wanted to teach," said Cointot. "I have younger siblings who, as a kid, I would set up a little classroom and make them work math problems and stuff like that."
Ella is among 283 students graduating within the next several months, eager to have their own classroom, prepared to enter the working world.
"I had a very good 7th grade teacher that really inspired me to get out there and motivate kids, and see that light bulb go off in their heads, and see them gain concepts, and the understanding of things," said Lilly Turner, who is majoring in early childhood education.
But this year, state education changes and discipline issues have driven teachers to leave the profession by the masses. Nearly 200 of those with more than 10 years experience.
"It will effect, and there will be some issues at some of the schools," said Vermilion Superintendent Jerome Puyau.
That fact is forcing administrators across Acadiana to look at different recruiting methods to ensure they don't start the year short handed. Including a new program for UMC employees to become teachers through an accelerated program at UL.
"They've got that practical experience, that work experience, and this would be a second career move for them," said UL's Dean of Education Gerald Carlson. "They can bring in a whole new dimension to the school system, a lot of them have a science background, which is one of the high need areas."
Carlson says, despite the mass exodus of teachers, and press surrounding the profession, students are eager and well prepared to enter the classroom.
"The anxiety is always there no matter what you do, any young professional would tell you that," said Stephanie Sobba, who is majoring in elementary education. "I don't think teaching is any different. You go in with an open heart, and an open mind, and passion, and ready to work."
"I knew it was going to be a tough career. There are so many students from different backgrounds," said Cointot. "So I never really had a fantasy of teaching I suppose. It's really been a lot better than I ever expected."
"I'm not worried. I think Lafayette Parish has a lot to offer," said Lafayette Parish Superintendent Dr. Pat Cooper. "I can't fix everything, every problem the next day, but we can listen, we can assimilate all that information, and we can come out with some solutions."
"We don't want to lose any teachers. We have great teachers in Vermillion Parish and we want to keep each and every one of them, so we want to provide the support to them," said Puyau.
If you are interested in applying in either Vermillion, or Lafayette Parish, the application can be found online. All applicants who submit an application online, in both parishes, will automatically be looked at for any open position, which they qualify for, within that parish school system.