(Alexandria, MN) — There were more than 500 applicants several years ago, in the Alexandria School District, when an elementary school teacher position opened up. That number has drastically changed this year to fewer than 100 applicants, according to Scott Heckert, District 206 human resource director.

“Alexandria is a desirable place to live, and our school system is highly regarded by educators who are looking to make a career change, but there is no doubt that it has become more difficult to fill our positions,” said Heckert. “This is due to the lack of individuals who are looking for a career as a teacher.”

Middle school and high school positions are tougher to fill, area administrators agreed.

Randy Bergquist, superintendent for the Osakis School District agreed: “I believe elementary grades are easier to find teachers for than the high school grades. It seems like there are more graduates in the elementary field than in high school.”

Business teachers are very difficult to find because they can use their skill set in higher paying careers, Heckert said. However, special education positions are the hardest to fill, due to the more individualized attention required and the students’ specialized academic, social and emotional needs.

Teachers are becoming harder and harder to find, and, even though it is a difficult profession, it can be extremely rewarding.

“It takes special people to do what teachers do day in and day out,” said Yocum. “There is not an easy solution to the challenges schools are facing with staffing. And, unfortunately, I see schools struggling with teacher shortages for some time yet.”