Shortage of substitutes teachers in Durham makes job stressful, teacher says


DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – A shortage of substitute teacher has some Durham teachers stressed to get their work done.

“Oh, it’s the best job in the world,” said Turquoise Parker.

Parker is a third-grade teacher at Eastway Elementary School.

She says it’s been stressful to get everything done recently.

“Stressful isn’t even the word, because we’re going to do everything we have to do to take care of our children. However, the stress of the job, the taxing things that we have to take care of, they take a toll on you,” Parker said.

Because there’s a shortage of substitute teachers in Durham Public Schools, when a teacher calls out, either their students are split up between other classes or another teacher is called in to cover that class during their planning period.

Between September and December of last year there were almost 16,000 teacher absences.

During that time almost 15,000 substitute teachers were requested, with only a little more than 12,000 of those requests filled.

“There’s a shortage because teaching is such a disrespected profession from the outside, from our General Assembly, that people just, always, want to stay away from it altogether,” Parker said.

DPS says one challenge is finding a way to get substitute teachers paid faster.

However, Parker says there’s one ultimate benefit.

“The interaction with children. That’s what makes me come to school every day,” Parker said.

Which she says is an opportunity to interact with the future.

As of January, there were a little more than 1,000 active substitute teachers.

A priority is to increase that number by recruiting retired teachers.

Information on applying to be a substitute teacher is available here.

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