CHARLOTTE, N.C. — With Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools averaging around 1,000 teacher absences each day due to COVID-19, teachers are covering more classes and the district's central office is being called on to help, including former teachers who have been out of the classroom.
Conversations at the dinner table are different these days for Omar Parkes, the Career Pathways Director for MeckEd. His wife is a teacher, and his son is a high schooler at a CMS school.
"It's frustrating. It's frustrating, you know," Parkes said. "This is my son's first year in the ninth grade, and it is, it's different than what he had expected it to be."
Parkes' day job helps him connect high school students to jobs and college after graduation. When he heard about the severe staff shortages at CMS, he felt compelled to act.
CMS is averaging around 1,000 teacher absences each day. Teachers who are able to come in are covering more classes and their already busy day is stretched even thinner. Even with the central office helping, CMS is covering less than 50% of the classes that need substitutes.
“One of the things that we say regularly around here is that education is everyone's business," Parkes said. "And so it's our duty to step up where we can and make room in our schedules to support the schools.”
It’s not just Parkes stepping up. The entire MeckEd office is signing up for shifts in schools. Ross Danis, MeckEd’s CEO and president, is starting at a school Thursday.
“We have a group of students from each of the four schools who talked to us about what's going on in their schools and they were telling stories about being in an auditorium, you know, multiple classes with one person supervising them," Danis said.
Danis said he sympathizes with the situation CMS schools are going through. He has been in the education feel for more than four decades.
“These are our kids and we can't just sit on the sidelines and expect things to work out because it's our future and their future," Dannis said.
Dannis and Parkes have signed up for the CMS guest teacher program.
“I filled out a form, you know, to put some information down that make, so you're certified as a volunteer," Dannis said.
The minimum requirements to be a non-certified guest teacher are a high school diploma and to be at least 21 years old. The minimum requirements for the certified guest teacher position are a completed bachelor's degree and a teaching license. It can be active or expired.
"I'd love to see more people do it," Danis said. "More parents, more nonprofit leaders, arts organizations. There are enough people in our community to address the issues that are taking place right now."
CMS guest teachers are full-time employees dedicated solely to one school. All guest teacher positions receive full benefits and the positions are considered temporary and funded through June 2023.
MeckEd leaders said they couldn't sit on the sidelines any longer. Click here to find a full list of open guest teacher positions. Guest teaching jobs pay $180 for certified employees and $150 for non-certified educators.
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