The Anglophone East School District in New Brunswick is confronting a big problem. It’s scrambling to find early grade French immersion teachers for the start of the next school year.
“Handling the average year replacement is pretty good, but when you have a year like the last couple, when you need more at once, that has been the issue,” said Gregg Ingersoll, school superintendent for the district.
Ingersoll says the district needs at least 40 full-time teachers for Grade Two immersion this September. Finding them has not been easy.
That is why he said the district has started its recruitment process months ahead of schedule. Ingersoll said the district is hoping to encourage people to move to New Brunswick. He hopes giving potential recruits more time to relocate to the province will help.
“If you are in Alberta and you are looking to come back, by summer it’s too late to sell your house and tell your employer and get your kids out of school,” he said.
The district has set a goal to fill the positions by this spring.
French immersion teachers require a superior French classification in order to teach early immersion.
The New Brunswick Teachers’ Association says one way for the district to deal with the shortage is to make it more attractive for teachers already working in the system to upgrade their French skills.
George Daley, president of the association, says teachers often have to do upgrading in the summer, and often away from home — without being paid any extra for their efforts.
“It is challenging for people to do that, to just pick up and go. Remember, this is not something that they are paid extra to do. They are putting in their own time to reach those levels.”
Ingersoll says N.B.’s Department of Education and Early Childhood Development is expanding the bursaries it currently offers for summer language learning to include a broader teacher audience and will continue to help fund and support language learning needs throughout the school year.
But in the meantime, the district is expanding its search across the country, hoping to lure qualified New Brunswick teachers back home.
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