Louisa schools return to class fully staffed: ‘It's about support’

Posted at 7:39 AM, Aug 09, 2022

LOUISA COUNTY, Va. — Louisa County Public Schools is the exception among many Central Virginia school districts experiencing widespread staffing vacancies.

Superintendent Doug Straley said all positions at LCPS are filled as students and teachers returned to the classroom on Tuesday morning. He credited the support from the community for stepping up to fill the positions.

At one point, Straley said LCPS had 30 to 40 vacancies. His team sent mailers and used social media to reach out to the community.

“Feeling that support from our community is huge,” Straley explained. “We take great pride in appreciating our staff and not just one week out of the year, but every single day. I think that's really paid off here as we've tried to bring people in our team and retain our quality folks as well.”

LCPS also implemented a "Teachers of Tomorrow" program to encourage high schoolers to explore a career in education. They offer students classroom experience working with preschoolers before seeking a college degree.

“The days when teachers are flocking to be teachers — those days are gone,” Straley said. “What we're really trying to do is build our own pipeline of teachers. We've had a couple of different outside of the box ideas and programs we put into place that really have paid off this year like with our instructional assistant to teach pipeline.”

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LCPS Superintendent Doug Straley

There are nearly 1,000 staff members for the county's 5,000 students.

Wendy Pruden has taught science at Louisa County High School for seven years, in addition to teaching in a neighboring jurisdiction for a decade.

“It's not about the pay. It's about support. Teachers need to feel supported. And if they feel that, then they'll stay,” Pruden stated.

Pruden said support is paramount to why she returns to the classroom each year.

“You are supported from the top all the way down. You are supported by your custodial staff in this building. They will do anything that you ask them to do and if they can't do it, they'll figure out how to do it,” Pruden stated.

She feels like this year is a restart. She organized her class on how she likes to teach since there are not COVID-19 restrictions this year.

“My largest class is 28 students and that's 100% doable,” Pruden said. “What matters is being able to get to those students and feel like you can make a connection with everyone in your classroom. The more students that are in a room, you don't feel like you can do that as well.”

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Wendy Pruden

Meanwhile, Metro Richmond school districts are reporting widespread teacher and bus driver vacanciesahead of their first day of class.

Despite offering large financial incentives, Richmond Public Schools said they still must hire 163 teachers before the first day.

Last month, both Chesterfield and Henrico schools said they had over 200 teacher vacancies.



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