New Brunswick

Wanted: Teachers, teachers and more teachers

With more than 200 New Brunswick teachers and principals set to retire this year, education faculties at universities in the province, school districts and the Department of Education are all scrambling to figure out how to fill the vacancies.

More than 200 teachers and principals are set to retire in New Brunswick this year and replacements are needed

New Brunswick is hoping to entice teachers who left the province for jobs to return home again.

More than 200 teachers and principals in New Brunswick are set to retire this year and there aren't enough education graduates to replace them.

That has universities, school districts and the Department of Education scrambling to find ways to fill the gap.

"This has caught us all a little bit by surprise," said Ken Frost, the education internship co-ordinator for Crandall University in Moncton.

There has been a shortage for a number of years in French immersion and "specialty areas," such as high school math and science, he said.

"But all of a sudden this shortage is in all areas of the curriculum."

Marianne Cormier, the dean of the University of Moncton's faculty of education, said when she started four years ago, the rumour was there were no jobs available.

"Our enrolments were declining because of this rumour and it seemed like it changed overnight."

Now, about 175 teachers and principals in the anglophone school districts are planning to retire, with another 50 or 60 in the francophone districts.

Crandall University currently has about 100 education students enrolled, while the University of Moncton has about 250 students spread out over its five-year program.

The last student I talked to said she was stressed out because she didn't know which contract to sign.- Marianne Cormier, University of Moncton

Although it will likely be another couple of months before the school districts determine the exact number of vacancies, Frost believes the job prospects for French immersion graduates are "excellent," and "pretty good" for those able to teach math or science.

At the University of Moncton, many of the French immersion graduates have already signed contracts with the Anglophone East School District and francophone school districts, said Cormier.

"The districts have been very aggressive," she said.

"The last student I talked to said she was stressed out because she didn't know which contract to sign."

Need to 'get creative'

Other provinces across the country and jurisdictions around the world are also facing shortages and aggressively recruiting, which means New Brunswick graduates have their pick of the crop.

Stacie Reck, Crandall University's education department co-ordinator, believes most students want to stay in the province and will, if jobs are available.

Cormier agrees. In fact, the University of Moncton is working with the provincial Department of Education to contact alumni who previously left New Brunswick for work to try to recruit them back, she said.

Still, she's "a bit worried" there won't be enough teachers to fill all the vacancies, particularly for French immersion and the francophone school districts.

"I think we're going to need to recruit more students … We might have to be even more creative to try to get more students in our programs."

To that end, the university is developing a new two-year program specializing in French immersion and inclusion.

It is also reaching out to other faculties, urging students with their first degree to consider studying education, and collaborating with the francophone school districts on a new campaign, promoting the profession, she said.

Students at Crandall University who are finishing up their latest internships will be meeting with a representative of the local school district later this week.

"I think because of the previous rumour that there were no jobs in the area it's going to make it a little bit more challenging in making sure that we get this information out there, so that people realize there are jobs in the local area," said Reck.

Meanwhile, the Department of Education is supporting districts in their efforts to ensure that teachers are available for both contract and supply positions. It is working with the New Brunswick Teachers' Federation (NBTF) and l'Association des enseignantes et enseignants du Nouveau-Brunswick (AEFNB), as well as the education faculties at universities in the province to "understand the challenges and find solutions," said spokeswoman Geneviève Mallet-Chiasson.

Staffing is a district responsibility, she said. The department's role is to support the districts and work closely with them to ensure that the proper resources are in place.

In addition, the department is working with districts to implement a recruitment strategy and attending job fairs for new university graduates, said Mallet-Chiasson.

With files from Information Morning Moncton