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Retired teachers saying 'no thanks' to returning to classroom as Georgia struggles with shortage

Only a fraction of the retirees who qualify have agreed to return with full pension and full pay.

ATLANTA — A change in Georgia law makes it more attractive for retired teachers to return to the classroom, but most retirees are saying “no thanks.”

House Bill 385, signed into law earlier this year, allows certain retired teachers to return to the classroom while continuing to collect their full pension and full-time pay. To qualify, teachers must be retired more than a year after 30 years experience, and they have to work in an area of high need.

After 31-years in a Dougherty County classroom, Kimberly Williams retired for a year-and-a-half. She’s beginning this school year at Mundy’s Mill High School in Clayton County and said the passion that led her to the classroom in the first place never left her.

Speaking with 11Alive, she touched on "being involved, being a part of something,” and added that she's “being a part of the bigger picture, the mission and the vision.”

Georgia’s attempt to draw experienced teachers back to the classroom comes as the state deals with a massive teacher shortage.

According to the Teachers Retirement System of Georgia, more than 56,000 retirees qualify but less than 100 have contacted the system about returning.

Lisa Morgan, head of the Georgia Association of Teachers, explained issues that pushed many teachers to retirement during the pandemic still exist

“The past two years have been extremely difficult,” Morgan said. “Educators are reporting burnout at higher levels than ever before. It’s something that many retirees aren’t willing to step back into the classroom.”

Clayton County in particular has tried to attract other retirees to join Kimberly Williams.

“What we hear is that the retiree doesn’t want to commit if they can’t commit wholeheartedly,” said Alisha Albritten, head of Human Resources for Clayton County Schools. “We have very few that have expressed interest.”

Williams admits there was a time when she vowed never to return.

However, she said "to see the need and not act on it, I couldn’t pass it by.” 

She’s bringing three decades of experience back to the classroom in a state with a lot of holes to fill.

    

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