August 10, 2023

Let’s Ensure Our Teachers Are Valued, Respected and Appreciated

Darkhorse Press

Phil Burchfield

Phil Burchfield, Executive Director
Mississippi Association of School Superintendents

As a former public school superintendent, Phil Burchfield has seen the tremendous benefits of helping young people find their place in the world. In his current role as executive director of the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents, he is working to provide resources, advocacy, leadership, policy information, training, support, renewal, and public relations services that improve the quality of public education.

 Let’s Ensure Our Teachers Are Valued, Respected and Appreciated

As students return to classrooms across Mississippi, many will be affected by a teacher shortage that has been impacting public schools nationwide.

A teacher’s job is making sure students have the foundation they need for productive lives and promising futures. When you think about it, that’s a tall order for educators, even when they have access to the best resources and support.

But in understaffed schools, teachers are stretched thin and expected to do more with less—a cycle that can negatively impact student achievement and make it harder for districts to hire and retain good teachers.

As a leading advocate for quality public education, the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents has made the teacher shortage a focal point of our advocacy and outreach efforts.

A few years ago, MASS launched the Unleash Possible campaign to shine a light on Mississippi educators and promote the benefits and opportunities of the profession. When it’s time for students to choose a career path, we want them to consider the lifelong impact they can make as teachers.

MASS also continues working with state leaders to develop more robust recruiting and hiring practices for Mississippi’s public schools as well as better pay, stronger certification standards and other incentives to build and strengthen Mississippi’s teacher workforce.

Last year, we applauded the State Legislature for passing the most significant teacher pay raise in three decades. Just months later, though, districts were reporting high levels of teacher attrition.

Today, almost two of three districts in Mississippi are classified as critical shortage areas, according to a teacher survey published by Mississippi First.

While higher pay is a step in the right direction, there’s no one answer that will resolve the teacher shortage. That’s why we are working to understand and effectively address the complex underlying causes, many of which may differ from district to district.

Throughout my career in education, I’ve found that most teachers entered the profession because of a teacher—someone they looked up to who provided inspiration and motivation at a pivotal time in their lives.

In other words, teachers are the best recruiters of future teachers—especially when they’re excited about their work and have the tools and resources that their students need to grow and thrive.

We’re committed to doing everything we can to address the teacher shortage, but we can’t do it alone. Every Mississippian is invested in the success of our public schools and can play a role in making sure teachers are valued, respected and appreciated for their contributions.

Let the teachers in your life and your community know that they have your support. And if you know someone who wants to be a teacher one day, your encouragement and positive reinforcement will send a clear message that they’re making the right decision.

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