Part 1: Teachers discuss shortages

MORGANTOWN, W.Va (WDTV) - We told you that teachers around the state are voicing their opinions on pay and benefits, but they're also speaking about shortages in the classroom.

In the first part of our series on the teacher shortage, some are explaining why they feel there is a lack of teachers.

You have to do it for a love of children. One teacher in Morgantown said she has been a teacher for 13 years.

"That desire of wanting to work with kids, wanting to see them succeed, wanting to be a mentor to them, that all comes from inside," said Carrie Justus, a seventh grade teacher.

A shortage of teachers is something that has hit the state hard. Last year, there were about 700 vacancies. Mountaineer Middle School principal Crystal Nantz says it's not so much of a problem in Monongalia County, but there is some concern when it comes to certifications.

"Every year we run into the issue of not being able to find certified teachers in the correct fields," Nantz said. "Sometimes it's not a shortage of teachers, it's a shortage of appropriately certified teachers."

Marion County Superintendent Gary Price has faced difficulties when it comes to a shortage of special education teachers. Recently, he's noticed issues with technical education.

"We don't have colleges offering those in the state and so slowly those are going to disappear," Price said.

We've laid out the shortages and how serious it is. Teachers fear it could impact the quality of the education for the students.

"It affects students," Justus said. "It affects their learning. The less teachers we have, the bigger classroom sizes we're going to have."

Why are we seeing these shortages? Some say it has to do with the pay for teachers in West Virginia, but others say it has to do with a lack of interest.

"There's a lot of intrinsic rewards that come with teaching," Justus said. "Seeing your children grow, seeing them develop over the years, seeing them achieve goals that they thought they could not accomplish. That's very rewarding."

"Less and less students are going into the field, less and less students are picking it up, and it does connect to the money," Nantz said. "If you're going into education, you need to make sure you're going into it for the right reasons. The amount of money you make is not the right reason. You need to make sure you have a love and passion for working with kids."