(WBTW) – Despite class starting for many South Carolina students as early as next week, hundreds of job vacancies remain in schools statewide.
In all, there were 991 job openings for teachers as of August 11, according to data compiled by SC for Ed.
It’s part of a national trend: not enough people are becoming teachers.
That’s not the case, however, for Jessica Singletary of Hannah, SC.
“I love everything about the classroom. The way it smells. The way the classroom is set up,” she said.
Singletary is enrolled at Grand Canyon University, working towards a teaching certification.
“I decided to do this after my grandfather passed away and both my grandfather and grandmother were teachers,” she said. “And so I just kind of decided that was the direction id really like to go in.”
But she’s taking on debt, and not necessarily looking forward to the biggest of paychecks upon certification.
The national average starting pay for teachers nationwide is $39,249. In South Carolina, the base starting pay is $35,000.
“I don’t think it equates to what a teacher is expected to do and the responsibilities that they have,” Dr. Edward Jadalla said.
He’s the dean of the Spadoni School of Education at Coastal Carolina University, and says one reason for the shortage is the pay.
” When you think of it that way that education is really part of our society and part of how our society develops, a $35,000 base is really cheap,” he said.
The other issue, he says, is the increase in standardized testing requirements.
“The curriculum has become a test generated curriculum, that I teach to the test,” he said. “And a big part of that is the frustration. It’s not what they thought it would be.”
Lisa Bourcier, Horry County Schools spokesperson, says the shortage isn’t a huge concern for them because they are able to offer competitive salaries and benefits.
They still struggle with filling certain positions, though.
“Science, math and special education are some of the more challenging more competitive positions to fill,” she explained.
Despite the challenges facing the field, Jessica Singletary is still passionate about becoming an educator.
All these children that my grandparents taught that came to see them, that came to say they changed their lives. They changed who they were. That’s what I want to be,” she said