GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — Health concerns, virtual learning troubles and preparing for in-person education are just some of the factors playing a role in a beloved Guilford County teacher’s decision to retire.
She’s not the only one getting out. Parents at Northwest Guilford Middle School told FOX8 that it’s a loss for every student.
Beth Sizemore spent 14 years at the school.
She said it wasn’t an easy decision for her. She loves Northwest Guilford Middle School, all of her students and being a teacher.
“They have to lessen the load a bit and just let us focus on teaching,” she said.
After more than twenty years in the district, Sizemore is saying goodbye.
“I’m leaving because the stress is so high this year. It’s affecting my health,” she explained.
Sizemore had COVID-19 in September, and is still feeling the residual effects. The life-changing experience forced her to re-evaluate her priorities.
“It’s a 24/7 job at this point, and I can’t keep up with the pace anymore,” she said.
She said attempting to navigate online learning and its own set of problems is overwhelming.
“We are spending many hours at home prepping and planning,” Sizemore said. “In a middle of a lesson, daily, the microphones go out or [the tablet] glitches.”
Teachers are also trying to be flexible, preparing for the constantly changing re-entry plans.
“We’re told something one day then the next day it changes. Sometimes it changes in the next hour,” she said.
Schools Superintendent Dr. Sharon Contreras told school board members on Tuesday that teacher’s job requirements won’t change.
“A teacher is not going to teach into the camera and the students in the class,” she said.
But Sizemore told FOX8 that teachers are being prepared for double duty.
“We’re being misled on what the expectations are going to be when the students do come back,” she explained. “We’ve been told we’re going to do both. We’re going to be teaching in person students in the classroom and streaming live.”
Sizemore is worried that if things don’t change, Guilford County could lose even more experienced educators.
“We’re all working so hard to reach the students and do the best for them, but you can’t keep adding stuff on our plate,” she said.
FOX8 did speak with Chief Academic Officer Dr. Whitney Oakley on Friday afternoon.
She said right now, the district does not see a need for teachers to do both remote and in-person learning at the same time.
However, she admitted that it could be a possibility based on staffing at each individual school.