Teacher shortage in Harlan County

Published: Aug. 7, 2017 at 6:46 PM EDT
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Schools across Kentucky are in need of teachers.

School officials in Harlan County say the problem is particularly bad there.

"With the loss of jobs in eastern Kentucky, a lot of the coal miners, their spouses would work for us not only as teachers but as support personnel," said Harlan County Schools Superintendent Brent Roark.

When coal miners left to find work, so did their spouses.

"Now I see more jobs that are posted than applicants applying for those jobs," said Andrew Williams, a teacher in Harlan County.

School officials continue to look for ways to fill the teaching gaps.

"Right now we are meeting our needs but we are just meeting our needs," said Roark.

The Teach for America program puts people who did not go to college for education into teaching positions.

"I think this program is completely necessary because there is a gap in teaching. There is a need I think," said Alexandra Nau.

Nau teaches English at Harlan County High School and is part of Teach for America.

"I would say it's a lot of hard work but completely worth it," said Nau.

Nau said although the program brought her to the area, the community made her stay.

"People are so kind and willing to help you in any way, shape, or form that they can and they don't know me from anyone," said Nau.

Although Teach for America helps, Harlan County Public Schools still struggle to find educators.

"You've got to start by helping the next generation believe that they can grow up and make a difference economically in this area. And I believe that's the kind of teacher it's going to take," said Williams.

School officials said low wages for teachers and more teachers reaching retirement means the shortage will continue.

The Kentucky Teacher Retirement System reported that about 15,000 teachers are eligible to retire in the state.

Here is a list of

at Harlan County Public Schools.