PEORIA, Ill. -
It's the last day of summer for students in Peoria Public Schools.
Although the schools will soon be filling up with students, this school year is starting with some teacher vacancies.
"I'm excited I can't wait to meet them," New 3rd grade teacher at Harrison Learning Center, Tai Major, says. "I'm really looking forward to providing someone that will care and love on the kids and I know everyone can do that everywhere but I'm grateful for this opportunity to be here and to be with these families."
Major comes to the district from a suburban school district south of Chicago. She knows coming to an urban district will present different challenges, but says she's ready to learn lessons of her own.
"I think every child no matter what background they come from deserves a chance at a great education." Major explains.
The district is starting the school year with 38 teacher vacancies, which is down from last year's 57 openings. Superintendent, Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat says the district has worked hard to hire 70 new teachers through this teacher shortage and now the focus shifts on getting them to stay.
"When I look at and analyze our hiring activity, retention is very low and so that's an area that I'm focused on for the upcoming school year." Dr. Kherat explains.
Brianna Cross is putting the finishing touches on her classroom just down the hall from Mrs. Major. She came to Harrison last year from the Washington School District. This is her second year teaching at Peoria Public Schools and she can't imagine it any other way.
"I don't see myself working anywhere else. I love Harrison, our sense of community, and our sense of family especially at this building not only within the district but especially at this building is something that is hard to find at any district." Cross says.
Dr. Kherat says she's seen many teachers take higher paying jobs in other districts or even leaving the state, a problem she and the board will keep working to solve.
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