BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – Berkeley County School District (BCSD) hosted a job fair at Daniel Island School to address a widespread teacher shortage Wednesday morning.

“Today we are here to help staff for Berkeley County School District, looking to get as many people as possible to fill that gap that they’re not able to acquire for certified teachers,” said Christopher Mizell, senior account manager for BCSD and Kelly Education.

South Carolina has more than 3,000 teacher openings. BCSD is one of the fastest-growing districts in the state and is desperately trying to fill available positions before school starts in August.

“Imagine the first day of school starting, and kids not having a teacher,” said Dr. Natasha Wright, interim Chief Human Resources Officer for the district. “We have plans to make sure that those classes are covered, but we want a long-term, certified, quality teacher in those classes all year long.”

Leaders at the event said the district has experienced a teacher shortage for years, but it worsened throughout the pandemic and has intensified in the past few months.

Staff members said they attribute the lack of teachers to a combination of fewer students choosing a career in education and more educators entering retirement.

“The enrollment of students into teacher preparation programs at colleges and universities is down significantly. So the pool is very shallow,” Wright said. “And we have a high number of people that are retiring.”

Mizell, who is involved with the staffing of substitute teachers, said substitute positions are more flexible than full-time employment, allowing teachers to choose which days and times they work.

“The only requirement we need is a high school diploma with additional training to be a substitute teacher in Berkeley County,” Mizell said.

Mizell said the district-wide teacher shortage includes a lack of substitutes, as well.

“Our active sub-pool in Berkeley is at about 965 subs, but of course, I’d love to double that,” Mizell said.

BCSD said it encourages people who do not have any prior teaching experience to consider training.

“There are pathways to teacher licensure. If you want to be a part of the solution to this teacher shortage, look into getting teacher certification through our alternative programs with the state department. There are a number of options,” Wright said.

Kevin Sorbanelli, a prospective teacher who attended the event, said he spent thirty years in the private sector before retiring and switching to a career in teaching.

“I realize there’s a shortage and need for teachers, and I’m at the point in my life and my career where I can make this transition,” Sorbanelli said.

Although today’s event was a step in the right direction, staff members said they did not see quite as big of a turnout as they had hoped.

“I will say to anyone who didn’t get to show up today, call our office. We are more than happy to connect them with a principal and get them hired. We want to get them hired!” Wright said.

Wright, a former educator herself, understands the potential consequences of a teacher shortage firsthand.

“That’s why we’re having these events, that’s why we will never give up on finding great teachers for our students,” Wright said. “We are going to stay in this fight because our kids are worth it.”

For more information on applying for a job with BCSD, click here.