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This Teacher Appreciation Week, Fewer NH Teachers to Thank

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New Hampshire's teachers, like those around the country, have adapted their methods and taken on more responsibilities to continue teaching during the pandemic. (Halfpoint/Adobe Stock)
New Hampshire's teachers, like those around the country, have adapted their methods and taken on more responsibilities to continue teaching during the pandemic. (Halfpoint/Adobe Stock)
 By Lily Bohlke - Producer, Contact
May 5, 2021

CONCORD, N.H. - It's Teacher Appreciation Week, but educators and teachers unions say New Hampshire is facing a teacher shortage. Fewer people are entering teacher-education programs, and more people are leaving the profession.

Megan Tuttle, president of the National Education Association's New Hampshire chapter, said that half of Granite State educators already opt to leave teaching in their first five years, and substitute teachers in particular are increasingly hard to find.

While there already was a shortage prior to COVID-19, Tuttle said, "the pandemic just brought it out more, because we weren't being able to get subs into the classroom, which meant that if teachers had to quarantine for whatever reason, that meant their students were then quarantined, because you couldn't necessarily have another teacher teach them."

Tuttle said she thinks there are many factors at play - from teacher salaries not reflecting the amount of work they do, to how the public views the profession and what it takes to become a teacher. She said educators often are tasked with more than people realize - something parents may have discovered when they had to shift into "teaching mode" during the COVID lockdowns.

Tuttle said she thinks Teacher Appreciation Week is wonderful, but added that more long-term support for teachers and for public schools is needed from policymakers - and in her view, from New Hampshire's education commissioner in particular.

"A lot of people don't see the hours spent at home, where you're preparing the lessons," she said. "They don't see the grading, they don't see just the time that goes into being a teacher. And so, it really is a profession, it's not just a job."

She applauded the thousands of educators across the state who drastically have shifted their methods for online or hybrid classes. In many cases, she said, they've worked double the normal amount of time in the past year because of all the changes and students' increased needs.

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