At its monthly meeting, the Tift County Board of Education and Superintendent Patrick Atwater began the process of hiring and extending contract offers to its certified staff for the 2016-2017 school year. While much of the state and nation seems to be facing teacher shortages and high turnover rates, Tift County is going against the trend.
“We have more than 650 certified employees in our system,” said Kevin Dobard, Executive Director of Human Resources for Tift County Schools. “We are fortunate to only have a few teachers leaving this year.”
Tift County currently has more than a 95 percent retention rate, with less than 5 percent of its certified staff not returning.
According to the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, “Since 2008, the rate of turnover in the first year in Georgia has hovered between 12 and 16 percent, reports the Georgia Department of Education. And by year five, the attrition rate of new teachers in Georgia grows to 44 percent.”
Tift County’s high retention rate is due in part to its new teacher orientation and induction programs.
“Our staff members work extremely hard to make sure new teachers feel like they are a part of their school from day one,” Dobard said. “In addition to the system-wide orientation, each school follows up with its own individual program. New teachers are even given a mentor teacher for one to three years.”
The programs include everything from offering curriculum support specific to that teacher’s area to making sure they know how to use the copy machine. Teachers new to the profession and veteran teachers new to Tift County are included.
“Teaching experience is such a critical part of a school system, and the members of the Board of Education do everything within our power to maintain and retain this level of educators,” said Kim Rutland, Board Chairperson. “We are extremely thankful for the level of commitment our educators have for the boys and girls of Tift County.”