To address a shortage of teachers in Catholic schools, the Archdiocese of St. Louis is looking at solutions such as open interviews and connections with education programs at local universities for potential candidates.
As of late May, there were an estimated 270 reported vacancies, mostly in Catholic elementary schools, for the 2022-23 school year, according to the archdiocesan Office of Catholic Education and Formation. That figure includes teaching and non-teaching staff.
“Our Catholic schools are incredible communities where our students, and our teachers and parents, are transformed each and every day,” said Maureen DePriest, archdiocesan superintendent for elementary education and co-director of the Office of Catholic Education and Formation.
“While the teacher shortage is very real, I remain hopeful that individuals who desire to participate in the educational and evangelizing mission of the Church will continue to commit themselves to teach in our Catholic schools,” she said.
The staffing shortage in Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of St. Louis is reflective of a shortage of teachers being felt across the country in recent years.
The office has been monitoring an increase in vacancies since mid-April, around the time that teacher contracts were due. Region directors from the Office of Catholic Education and Formation are working closely with principals to monitor openings and explore alternative staffing options, DePriest said.
Region directors held open interviews May 16-20 and a targeted social media campaign was developed to reach potential candidates. Human Resources also has worked with individual schools to post job opportunities and create custom advertising to highlight openings.
“That is an extra layer that we have been able to provide our principals,” said Sarah Wehde, human resources generalist for the archdiocese. “We know the struggle that they’re having, and it’s important that we can help them with their recruiting efforts in any way we can.”
Fifty-five percent of teachers surveyed in February by the National Education Association said they plan to leave education earlier than planned. Three-fourths of those surveyed (74%) said they’ve had to fill in for colleagues or take other duties due to staff shortages, and 90% said feeling burned out is a serious problem. Additionally, 80% of members report that unfilled job openings have led to more work obligations for the educators who remain.
In the last decade, Missouri’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has reported that enrollment in teacher prep programs across the state has declined by more than 25%. The average teacher attrition rates for the last six years are more than 11%, which is higher than the nationwide average of 8%. “In short, too many teachers leave the profession, and there are fewer teachers available to replace them,” according to a release from DESE.
>> Career opportunities at Catholic schools
To learn more about job openings in Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, see www.archstl.org/job-opportunities