Counties in the East differ in teacher retention

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – A new report shows more teachers left North Carolina classrooms last year than the year before. 14,255 teachers left their school districts during 2014-2015.

Counties in the East represented both the highest and lowest turnover rates. Martin County had the lowest turn over rate in the East, and ranked 16th in the state. They were followed by Dare County at 17th in the state, Tyrrell County at 19th, and Lenoir at 42nd.

Melanie Delph, a Martin County teacher entering her 40th year in the classroom, said many teachers in the county really want to stay.

“Everybody is valued here, and everybody is special, and we’re treated that way,” Delph said.

She said she got into teaching to make a difference and experience what can come from watching kids achieve things they didn’t think they could. She said despite feeling under appreciated from lawmakers, she knows she is making a difference.

“Maybe we’re not encouraged from Raleigh, but we’re encouraged from Martin County,” she said.

Washington County had the next to highest turnover rate in the state at 30.97%. They were followed by Bertie County at 98th in the state, Hyde County at 92nd, and Greene County at 91st.

Other states, like Texas, have held job fairs in North Carolina trying to attract teachers with higher salaries. In all, 1,028 teachers left North Carolina to teach in classrooms in a different state.

Ferdonia Stewart, principal at Ridgewood Elementary in Pitt County, said finding replacements can be difficult.

“When someone leaves a profession, knowledge is walking out of that door,” Stewart said. “So of course you have to give teachers time to get acclimated.”

Stewart said new teachers are given mentors to help with the transition period. While she knows she can’t control salaries, she does try to create a positive work environment.

To read the full report on the turnover rate, click here.

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