Houston ISD continues to fill the gap on teacher shortage as new school year begins

Mayra Moreno Image
Monday, August 22, 2022
HISD continues to fill the gap on teacher shortage
Houston ISD is among Texas districts with a big gap to fill when it comes to teacher jobs. The district is using pay incentives to find new talent.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- It's no secret that Houston ISD and other districts across the state have a big gap to fill when it comes to teacher jobs.

Since the spring, HISD has been working to fill those positions and retain the teachers they already have. So far, it's working -- but they still have a long way to go.

"I'm so excited to meet my students," said 22-year-old Hannah Myers.

Myers never imagined she would take up a teaching career.

"My classroom number is D-305, and I will be teaching chemistry and IPC," Myers said.

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But fresh out of the University of Houston, she is gearing up and setting up her classroom at ABC13 anchor Mayra Moreno's alma mater in the East End, Austin High School.

"I'm just excited to dive into teaching and grow more," she said.

Myers is one of the brand-new 800 teachers just hired at HISD.

"We're on Facebook and Instagram and YouTube (and) the radio," said Jeremy Grant-Skinner, the Chief Talent Officer at HISD.

In the spring, the district went all in, working every angle to fill a huge gap, which has been a big issue all across Texas. While 800 people were recently hired at HISD, there are still 800 more spots to fill.

"We're in a place where this is the hardest nationally it's been in decades to staff schools," said Grant-Skinner.

The Texas Education Agency has not acknowledged a shortage but said teacher vacancies have been hard to fill statewide.

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In March, Superintendent Millard House II put it bluntly, saying, "talent is running rapid in the opposite direction."

"We haven't valued for quite some time, especially from a compensation standpoint, our educators the way we need to," he said.

That's why salary was a big part of the district's recruitment this time around. HISD now offers the biggest starting salary in the nation, starting at $61,500.

"We also had signing incentives for new teachers this year," said Grant-Skinner. "Anyone coming into the district was eligible, and today remains eligible, for an extra $2,000 signing bonus."

The district also offers its Alternative Certification Program, where anyone with a degree who wants to jump at the opportunity to become a teacher can do so for free.

It was an opportunity that Myers could not pass up.

"I'm grateful to be able to play a role in being a leader in our community and reaching students," she said. "(I want my students to) just know it's a safe place here in my classroom and that we're all in this together."

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Students can expect to see more officers on campuses as the school year starts, as well as local ministers walking the halls.