National shortage of special education teachers, Waco ISD feeling effects

Posted at 7:13 PM, Aug 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-28 21:02:12-04

Waco ISD is still searching for teachers but it's no simple task to fill these last few positions.

In early August, there were still seven teaching positions available within the district.

Four of the positions have since been filled and the three remaining positions are for special education teachers.

There are more than 1,000 students in special education at Waco ISD. Around 70 teachers, including Janessa Holles, are dedicated to helping them succeed.

Holles is a 23-year-old Baylor graduate. This is her second year teaching at Waco High School.

"The students do really make the job easy," Holles said. "I would like to believe that there are more people out there who want to teach and educate these students."

Holles has nine students in her class. She works with them individually, guiding them through the same curriculum as their peers.

"From the scientific method to teaching algebra," Holles said. "It's just teaching them in a different way."

Each student learns at a different pace.

"Our special education teachers are very special," said Elaine Botello, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources with Waco ISD. "They help us achieve our goals in the district and our students that they're serving."

Botello said they offer a stipend to special education teachers to draw in more applicants. 

The National Coalition on Personnel Shortages in Special Education and Related Services (NCPSSERS) reports that 49 states are experiencing a shortage of special education teachers. Fifty-one percent of all schools districts have also reported difficulty in attracting highly qualified special education teachers.

Holles hopes new faces will soon fill the halls to care for the children who take up a big place in her heart.

"It makes no difference what someone's ability is, they want to know that they are loved and that they are accepted," Holles said.

If you're interested in applying for one of the open positions, click here

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