St. Helena Parish Solves Teacher Shortage Issue

Chelsea Penney
April 6, 2022

According to Louisiana State Superintendent, Cade Brumley, there are currently 2,500 certified teacher vacancies across the state. Districts in the state are looking for innovative solutions to make sure students have access to the expert, certified teachers they deserve. 

“When we found out that we had the opportunity to get certified teachers in the classroom virtually for our kids, we were very excited about it because we knew that it would help eliminate our teacher shortage that we always have being that our district is small and rural.” St. Helena Parish Superintendent, Dr. Kelli Joseph, advocates for filling faculty shortages with certified teachers through Proximity Learning. 

Filling The Gap In Rural Louisiana

“We were very excited about that opportunity. Fast forward to today, we are still working with Proximity Learning, and we are still pleased and very excited about the opportunities. I know that COVID-19 has come in and created some challenges for everyone, but at the end of the day, Proximity Learning has been that go-to for us when we need to fill our vacancies. We’re very happy that we have a partnership with them because they fill a need, they fill a void, and they give our students what they need to continue on that track to success.” Proximity Learning has been partnering with St. Helena Parish since 2018.

Quality Instructors Making An Impact

Proximity Learning certified teachers livestream lessons into classrooms in the case where the district cannot find a local teacher to teach in person. Instead of learning from a long-term substitute all year, students are taught by an expert virtual teacher in their own classroom, increasing educational equity

“It’s upwards of 100 kids being impacted. Our high school has 520 kids so when you talk about averaging about 100 kids, that’s a nice chunk of students being impacted by Proximity Learning.”

“At the district level, we know that our kids are receiving quality instruction rather than having a substitute teacher in that space for a long period of time.”

Spreading Educational Equity In The South

Educational equity is giving all students access to expert teachers. Equity also impacts the teachers within the physical school. When students do not have access to the resources they need, the burden falls on the teachers to provide or pivot. The affordability of Proximity Learning services helps districts allocate funds elsewhere to compensate for additional needs.

“It’s absolutely educational equity. That is definitely the focus that we have. Being a small, rural district, it is very difficult to find qualified, certified teachers. While we may attract them, it’s hard to retain them because of the distance from where they live to where they have to work. It’s a lot. But at the end of the day, it [Proximity Learning] is absolutely providing equitable service for our kids because instead of a substitute, we have someone who is certified in the classroom to provide those services.”

Connections For Students, Connections For Administrators

“We have the need to continue to fill vacancies. The representatives from Proximity Learning have been very helpful. They have gone above and beyond actually. Beyond just providing the service of the online teachers. They also granted us access to various organizations that can help us learn more about education trends and put us in contact with other people across the nation with similar experiences. It’s really helped us increase our capacity at the district level but also at the school level. They have really been supportive in ways that we were not expecting.”

“Proximity Learning connected us with educators across the nation and organizations across the nation. Just being there, being supportive, and helping us bridge the gap to accessing services is well beyond what they were supposed to do, which was just giving us certified teachers to fill vacancies in the classroom. We’re very pleased with our partnership with Proximity Learning.”

Advice For Administrators

“Proximity Learning is a definite benefit if they need to fill the vacancies. It’s a definite benefit if their children are tech-savvy and they have an understanding. It’s really really simple, there’s not a whole lot of things the kids need to do in order to access the teacher and communicate with the teacher. But if they’re needing to fill vacancies, which we see is an issue across the nation, then Proximity Learning is definitely a place they can go to get those services taken care of.”

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Chelsea Penney earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Writing from University of Colorado Denver and her Masters of Science in Marketing from Texas A&M University Commerce. She loves living in Austin, TX and working on the frontline of the many marketing initiatives for Proximity Learning.

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