GASTON COUNTY, N.C. — Across the United States schools are losing teachers dramatically, resulting in a nationwide teacher shortage.
WCNC Charlotte has reported some districts in our area are heading back into the year with hundreds of teacher openings. Shortages have made the critical role of international teachers coming to the United States to teach even more important.
One pair of teachers from the Philippines are calling Gaston County Schools home for the upcoming year.
Perlinda Cueto, an elementary school teacher, and Christelle Corpin, a high school teacher, are now roommates after finding each other in a Filipino American Facebook group.
“I like teaching, you know, different kinds of people," Cueto said about her time in U.S. schools. "It is so diverse and it's so much fun."
Both teachers said their time in Gaston County has been rewarding.
"I go to school, like getting food and love letters or like balloons with 'I love Ms. Corpin,' because that's how really appreciative they are," Corpin said about her students.
While they had many good things to say about their move, they’ve had some challenges.
"At first, we had to look for our own apartment, we had to really connect with people and that's where the Filipino American community helped us," Corpin said.
Corpin, who’s in her second year in the district, is also the exchange teacher liaison.
International teachers work with job agencies to meet the qualifications for work visas and get placed in area schools. The programs sometimes help pay for flights to the U.S., but for the most part, things like housing, transportation, and clothes are on the teachers to cover.
“It’s not easy to look for an apartment and for the car and everything," Cueto said.
Around a dozen international teachers in Gaston County, like Cueto, needed winter clothes, furniture, even bed sheets when they first arrived.
Corpin put a call out for help for all the new teachers in a Facebook group for Filipino Americans in the Carolinas.
The response was overwhelming.
Filipino Americans from both South and North Carolina loaded up the new teachers with almost everything they needed for the year.
“The connections, the linkage, the help in the Philippines, we call it Bayanihan, wherein when you see someone in need, you really immediately help," Corpin said. "It's like patriotism here in America.”
Connected by two countries now, the teachers will continue to pass along a helping hand to the next batch of international teachers.
The teachers are still accepting donations. If you would like to help, contact Corpin at email@example.com. The group is still collecting food items, clothes, and furniture.