Cairo, IL schools make due in midst of statewide shortage

CAIRO, IL (KFVS) - Schools in Illinois are still enduring a teacher shortage according to a survey from the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools.

This survey covers the school years of 2015-2016. However, several Southern Illinois schools said have been dealing with the shortage for years beyond that and they have been doing what they can to keep their positions filled with good quality teachers.

Cairo District School Superintendent Andrea Everes said her school has felt the impact of the teacher shortage as well but said they have found a way to get by and with a qualified staff.

"There has been, over the last five or six years, been a significant d rop in the eligible candidates in teacher shortage areas; mathematics, science, special education and foreign language," Everes said.

Everes said their school is lucky to have community members and teachers there care so much about their students. The teachers have been known to continue teaching even after they retire.

"We've been creative in utilizing resources that some people might overlook," Everes added. "We utilize several retired teachers in our classrooms to make sure that students are still offered the full comprehensive continuum curriculum."

Ronnie Woods works with the Cairo School district as a math teacher. He worked for the district for 32 years when he retired in 2015. He then came back at a moments notice when he heard they needed a little help.

"I love the kids!" Woods said. "They really are amazing people. The staff, we are close and this is my home. So all those factors and the fact that there are things that I can do to help, it's just a no brainer. You come back and you help."

Woods feels the entire goal is for a child to come into school and have a normal day of school with a comfortable environment they can enjoy and also thrive in educationally.

Everes feels Woods is one of many teachers that have gone above and beyond to help which she considers a blessing.

"Many of our teachers have spent decades in classrooms. Some two or three decades in classrooms with our children and they still have that desire to make an impact beyond their teaching years into retirement," Everes said.

Woods said he doesn't mind stepping in and feels this is the best case scenario at the time for the district during the teacher shortage.

"It's a solution to a very difficult situation because there are probably some districts that are struggling to get enough teachers to teach the basic classes, not alone those that are elective classes," Woods added.

The Illinois Board of Education said there are over 2,000 unfilled positions in Illinois which include teachers, administrative staff and support staff.

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