In a special called meeting Monday night, Pearl Green, a faculty member with the Judy Jester Learning Center, addressed the Lawrence County Board of Education about a need for more diversity among teachers and administrators within the school system.
“We have a job to do, and it’s not just left up to you (the school board). I’m speaking on behalf of the black community—reaching out to you to hire more black teachers,” Green said. “We’ve got to come up with a strategy to hire more teachers and retain them.”
Green said several discussions on the topic have begun in the community and with the school board, and she suggested forming a coalition between the board and community members to help recruit educators.
“We have to show them Lawrence County is a good place to work. We’re as good as any county. We’re as good as Madison. We’re as good as Jefferson. We want to stand shoulder to shoulder with our principals, our Board of Education and Dr. Smith,” she said.
Superintendent Jon Bret Smith said a statewide teacher shortage has not helped matters, but he agreed plans should be set in motion.
“We need a measurable goal, and we need a plan on how to get there,” he said.
Smith attributed teacher shortages to issues like fewer college students seeking degrees in education and fewer retirement benefits for new hires in the field of education.
He briefly discussed Alabama House Bill 77, which is still being considered by legislation and could create better retirement plans to help recruit and retain more teachers.
“We want high-quality teachers in Lawrence County,” he said. “We’re willing to work with anybody to help us find the very best teachers.”
In the same meeting, the board recognized 11 Lawrence County Career and Technical Center students for their achievements in a recent state competition.
Career Technology Director and School Administrator Robby Vinzant said the students competed across one through 7A divisions and were rated among the best in the state.
In the Cosmetology Category, Ellis Dockery was named State Champion in Nail Care and Leticia Villarreal was name Esthetics State Runner-up.
Will Vickers and Malik Wesley were named State Champions in the Mobile Robotics Category.
In the Business Education Category, Ethan Gordon was the State Runner-up in Retail Management, and James Huang was named State Runner-up in Global Business.
Five other LCCTC students placed first, second or third in the above mentioned categories but could not be present for recognition at Monday’s meeting.
Board member Shannon Terry was not present for the special called meeting.