RUTHERFORD COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — With school quickly approaching, school districts across Middle Tennessee are still struggling to hire teachers.

Dr. Theowauna Hatchett never imagined she’d be back in the hallways of her old high school.

“Walking the halls as a senior, junior, back in those days I really was just not sure what I wanted to do, but I’m thankful the Lord just led me here,” she said.

She left La Vergne High School as a student, but two years ago returned as its principal.

“When I went here, I believe there was a catfish house and a gas station, now it’s everything on the corner and on the road,” said Hatchett.

The community she knows is growing faster than she could ever imagine.

“I’ve never seen anything of this sort,” she said. “We’re really struggling for applicants.”

But Hatchett says hiring teachers for the upcoming school year has been difficult.

“I’ve devoted much of my summer to hiring,” she said. “[I’m] looking for candidates and trying to figure out what options we have if we don’t staff fully.”

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She is not alone, though. As of now, Rutherford County Schools is in need of just over 80 teachers for the upcoming school year.

Dr. Andrea Anthony, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources for Rutherford County Schools, says they are working hard to recruit but are competing with neighboring school districts.

“It’s always a challenge having many bordering counties,” she said. “Everybody has their signing bonuses and their own pay scales and different challenges and needs.”

Anthony says things like their Teach Now program is helping to bring in those interested in teaching, and the school board recently approved signing bonuses for schools like Hatchett’s.

“I think the bonus they are going to get from being at La Vergne, as well as some hard-to-staff bonuses and things of that sort, are going to get that last pull, so we can pull some teachers in,” said Hatchett.

With just weeks left before the school year begins, Hatchett is optimistic she’ll find teachers for her high school. “I think the more we are out of the box thinkers, I think we’ll be able to pull in some good people that really have a heart and passion for kids.”

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