Catahoula Parish faces the same issue that rural school districts all over the country face, the shortage of certified teachers. There are many reasons for teacher shortages, most of which require changes from levels of government much higher than the local school board. Catahoula has used many different tactics over the years to attract certified teachers, but one has consistently been successful for the district. That solution is the use of certified retirees.
For the 2019-2020 school year, approximately 23% of the professional population of the district is certified retirees. This includes not only teachers but a principal and the superintendent. If you look only at teachers, the number remains at 23%. These are retired certified teachers who have agreed to come back to work in the classrooms of Catahoula Parish. These individuals saw the need before them and were willing to step up and help.
Over the last several years, the school system has seen a shift in their classroom teachers. More and more classrooms are filled with either uncertified or newly certified teachers or with retirees. There are fewer and fewer long-term certified teachers in the parish. This can be attributed to many factors, including but not limited to pay, job opportunities for spouses, and fewer college students seeking a degree in education. Having these retirees in the classroom not only helps fill the need of a certified teacher but also provides experience that can be shared with new teachers as they grow in the profession.
The Catahoula Parish School District is grateful for the retirees that chose to return to the classroom. Just imagine if these retirees were not in our classrooms. Without them, 23% more of the classes would be filled with uncertified teachers.