Shortage of Greek teachers nationwide

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By Anastasios Koularmanis

The shortage of Greek teachers is increasing in the majority of our parochial schools, with many more teachers retiring and then entering our school system. This disparity has widened in recent years and appears to be a growing concern for many Greek-American communities across the country.

Finding qualified Greek teachers has always been the biggest challenge our schools have faced. We may have the best Greek language programs in the county, but if we don’t have effective teachers, we won’t be able to convince families to enroll their children in our schools and programs.

Before the pandemic era, we saw a huge decrease in the number of teachers coming from Greece. For many schools, the teacher exchange program served not only as a pipeline to find teachers, but also as an economic lifeline since those teachers were paid by the Greek government. An increase in the cost of living has deterred any interested candidates from applying for vacancies in the United States and other European countries.

Unfortunately, this shortage will continue to grow even more unless we find a permanent solution. We have to understand that our Greek-American teachers and the teachers who come from Greece play an important role in our schools. Therefore, we must ensure that the public, the Greek government and all of our stakeholders are aware of the important work they do and the important contributions they make to the children they teach.

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In the meantime, communities should consider increasing teachers’ salaries. As a former administrator of a Greek-American school, I can attest to the fact that money is one of the main reasons many teachers do not choose to work for our schools. It is undeniable that remuneration can and does influence career choices. Second, we can start sponsoring and paying our own Greek teachers from Greece and Cyprus instead of depending on others. Finally, we must work together to ensure that our schools and programs remain open.

Needless to say, no solution will immediately address our teacher shortages and the various other obstacles we face. This will require a significant investment of time, money and talent. However, if we work together and if issues are resolved as they arise, we could help ensure that all of our schools and programs continue to provide all of the country’s children with our Greek language, our Greek culture and our Greek Orthodox faith.

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