DICKSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — High school teachers deal with more than just the rigors of curriculum. Discipline issues that disrupt classrooms are pushing some educators to the exit.
Dickson County High School principal Joey Holley said he’s lucky if just one person applies when a position opens.
“99% of my job is awesome,” he said.
It’s that 1% that challenges even the most dedicated.
“There’s a lot of things with education right now that’s frustrating, like the discipline at the secondary level, across the state.” Holley said.
He explained that in his 26-year career, he’s never seen students with the amount of social-emotional struggles they do now.
“They’re just kids, teenagers, in our world. They just now come with more baggage.”
Kids with complex living arrangements, uninvolved guardians, societal expectations and pressures of social media. Like a pressure cooker, they eventually steam out of control.
“A lot of our teachers try to be, you know, a shining light for them, and try to be mentors, and try to do everything they can to help them, but sometimes it’s just… it just doesn’t seem appreciated for what educators deal with.” he said.
From parents to students, Holley said it goes back to support at home. “Sometimes we have it. Most of the times we don’t.”
For the first time, he has seen the dilemma directly impact classrooms.
“This year has been the toughest year for me, as an administrator, to find teachers. I don’t think it’s gonna get any easier.”
Positions like Spanish, chemistry and math remain unfilled at many schools.
“It’s like finding gold when you find a teacher,” he said. “If this continues to grow, then yes, it’s a huge concern that could be a crisis mode.”
At that point, the decision for Holley becomes virtual programs for students, who then sit in a classroom without a teacher, “or take a shot on a teacher that you maybe not feel comfortable with.”
When those are his options, there isn’t much to celebrate. But, lifting those who choose to stay is important.
“We’ve got 125 warriors up here. Teachers, administrators, aides, cafeteria staff, custodial staff, and they are rockstars at what they do.”
He does what he can to support them, as they support the future.