Local teachers discuss challenges as more educators step away

Published: Dec. 9, 2021 at 9:22 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The extra jobs teachers have had to take on in the past two years has had many quitting or switching careers. On Thursday, Dec. 9, Eyewitness News spoke with Wichita teachers about challenges they face, challenges that have contributed to the more educators stepping away.

A Wichita social studies teacher who spoke anonymously, said he loves teaching, but did not expect the extra work that would be put on his plate with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve had to be health monitors with masks and things like that. “We’ve had to be cleaning staff sometimes because we had to disinfect and sanitize more than our custodians could on their own. We’ve had to sometimes be mental health specialists and almost therapists, helping our students through crises,” he said.

The teacher said educators’ concerns aren’t taken into consideration.

“When we ask for changes, whether it’s a pay raise or a budget increase, or just generally more respect, it’s not because we’re thankless and selfish. It’s just, we want to do this job We want to help (make) children’s lives better and make the world a better place, but at the same time, we can’t do that for free and we can’t do that at the cost of our own sanity.”

While some teaches have chosen to stay despite added stress and frustrations, others have chosen to leave for their own mental health.

“Every day, I’m emotionally drained, yes,” Wichita Public Schools recently retired special education teacher LaDena Campbell said. “I came home and cried almost every night because of things going on in the school.”

Campbell taught in USD 259 for 23 years and left last September to travel the country in her RV. She said she decided to leave after a student hit her in the head, an incident that left her concussed.

“I don’t think we get the respect that we need or that we deserve,” Campbell said. “I don’t think we get the money that we deserve. Other people that have degrees... I have a master’s degree and other people with master’s degrees make three times more than I do. But I don’t do it for the money. I do it for the kids.”

While Campbell said she loved her students, she admitted that quitting her teaching job has made her happier.

“But it’s nigh and day,” she said. “Where I came home and cried every night, now I sit outside and enjoy life now.”

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