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North Carolina school districts are struggling to attract new teachers

Hospitals are seeing more people who want to become doctors and nurses, but the same can’t be said for schools.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — There are two big topics that we’ve heard a lot about over the last year, education and health care. 

Hospitals are seeing more people who want to become doctors and nurses, but the same can’t be said for schools.

"Something is there that’s causing students not to come and want to be a teacher these days," Jennie Rakestraw the dean of college of education at  Winthrop University said. 

Winthrop University in Rock Hill trains many of the teachers who are now in classrooms across North and South Carolina.

RELATED: Applications to nursing and medical schools climbed in 2020

A lot of them will take jobs in the Charlotte-region but between the pandemic, and the pay, it’s getting harder to keep teachers in the classrooms.

"Am I willing to continue sacrificing myself or am I going to put myself first and do something different," Saani Perry, a teacher, told WCNC Charlotte. 

And it's even harder to recruit new ones.

The number of high school students going to college wanting to be a teacher has dropped. A recent survey by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education found that 19% of undergraduate-level and 11% of graduate-level teaching programs saw a significant drop in enrollment this year.

At Winthrop, it’s too early to tell how much of a hit their enrollment will take,
but the dean of the college of education said teacher shortages have ebbed and flowed through the years. And she believes interest in the profession will rebound. 

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"I think we’re hopeful but we just don't know it’s really a wait-and-see situation," Rakestraw said. 

Teacher shortages existed before the pandemic, and both Carolinas are taking steps to try to recruit teachers now.

Have a relative or friend in another state and want to know when they can get vaccinated? Visit NBC News' Plan Your Vaccine site to find out about each state's vaccine rollout plan.