LOUISBURG — Throughout the months of January and February, Franklin County Schools is doing something drastically different to recruit teachers, said FCS Director of Communications Patric Glace in a news release Tuesday.
To help fill over half-a-dozen open Exceptional Children teaching positions, the school system is offering $4,000 in signing bonuses for EC teachers new to the district and $3,000 in bonuses for current employees who are looking to enter the EC field from non-certified positions, such as teacher assistants.
According to EC and Student Services Director, Windy Edwards, teaching positions in the special education field are some of the most difficult to fill, Glace wrote, noting it is particularly difficult to recruit at the beginning of the year.
“Our EC teachers go above and beyond to support their students every day,” Edwards said. “One thing I know we’re good at in Franklin County is training EC teachers — we have some of the best teachers and specialists in the state and if we can get the attention of hard-working, dedicated new and veteran EC teachers, our students will continue to be successful.”
The bonus incentive follows the recent announcement of another initiative that hopes to increase the pipeline of EC teachers in Franklin County. Thanks to a pilot program funded by the state, five teacher assistants working in Franklin County Schools who are pursuing their bachelor’s degree and teaching certification in special education will receive up to $4,500 per year as tuition reimbursement.
Michael Zalewski, director of human resources for the district, says the pilot program came as a surprise for the small cohort of qualifying districts, but school and district leaders didn’t hesitate to utilize this funding as a recruitment tool.
“Our most difficult-to-fill teaching positions are always exceptional children, math, and science,” says Zalewski, who has worked in HR in Franklin County for more than three years. “We created an application for the program and we received 14 applicants for the five slots – all of which were pursuing EC degrees,” he says.
With the combination of incentives and the growing need for qualified teachers, school and district officials are hopeful that individuals will continue to be drawn to serve students with special needs.
“We hope that this pilot program and our aggressive signing bonuses will draw top talent to our district and will encourage some of our most dedicated teacher assistants to take that next step in the classroom,” Zalewski said.