LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – A newborn baby boy and a burgeoning side business made Andrew Glibbery reconsider life inside the classroom at Marion C. Moore School.

Glibbery, who taught eighth grade social studies, decided to resign after eight years at Marion C. Moore and focus on his growing family and Louisville Silent Disco, the business he started with his wife.

“I couldn't do all three things at once,” he said. “… I had a friend tell me that you know when you when you don't love teaching anymore, it's probably time to step out, and I think that’s where I landed this year.”

Glibbery was among 82 certified teachers who recently resigned from Jefferson County Public Schools around the end of the 2021-22 school year, according to a list of personnel actions included in Tuesday’s Jefferson County Board of Education meeting agenda.

JCPS, like other school districts across Kentucky and the U.S., has grappled with shortages of teachers and other positions during the 2021-22 school year. For Kentucky’s largest school district, the 2021-22 term was the first time students and educators were inside classrooms for in-person learning since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Three dozen more certified teachers resigned their jobs from JCPS during the 2021-22 school year compared to the 2018-19 term, but about 20 fewer have retired this year compared to that year, Superintendent Marty Pollio told reporters after Tuesday’s board meeting.

There’s “not a major difference” between the numbers of teachers who have left JCPS during the past school years with full in-person learning, Pollio said.

“Compared to what the narrative had been throughout the year, we’re pleased with where the numbers are, but that doesn't mean we don't have concerns about starting the year with a teacher in every classroom,” he said.

The district recently reached an agreement with the Jefferson County Teachers Association for 4% pay raises starting July 1 and a $1,000 continuity bonuses for all teachers during the 2023-24 school year, and JCPS is developing a plan to ensure teachers do not have to spend their own money to supply their classrooms, Pollio said. Reducing class sizes is another objective for the district, he said.

“These are all things that we're trying to make so much better,” he said.

Pollio’s biggest worry is the dwindling pipeline of prospective teachers who want to pursue education in college.

“We don't pay enough to our teachers,” he said. “It has become a political battlefield, so to speak, to be a teacher in America, and really the disrespect I think that the teaching profession and public education gets across the United States is something that is problematic and signals to kids, ‘Why would you go into this profession? Do something else,’ and so I think we're going to have to change that as a nation if we expect to turn this around.”

Pollio is “very concerned” with the district’s ability to fill the vacancies created by those who have resigned or retired from district classrooms.

“JCPS is all over the nation trying to attract teachers, and some other districts may not have that luxury of being able to do that. We do,” he said. “Having said that, when you have such a decrease in the pipeline coming through, it's almost impossible to say we're going to fill every single classroom. I think we’ll be improved from last year, but I'm still concerned about having a certified teacher in every classroom just like I know every superintendent in Kentucky is right now.”

The 2021-22 school year was a tough one for Glibbery. Between finding his footing back in the classroom after spending part of the past two school years of teaching through nontraditional instruction, assisting new teachers who had never been in JCPS classrooms, covering for those quarantined because of COVID-19, making up for staff shortages and helping students who had two school years disrupted by the pandemic, he was stretched thin.

“It's just like this perfect storm of things that made it a really challenging year,” Glibbery said.

Still, the former teacher will hold fond memories of the teachers and students he met throughout his teaching career.

“To be all day on your feet responding to the needs and genuinely looking to build these kids up and looking to support them where you can and to hopefully leave them better than you found them, the people doing the job, they cannot get paid enough,” Glibbery said.

If Louisville Silent Disco doesn’t work out, Glibbery may return to the classroom. He says he’ll miss the camaraderie and unpredictable days that teaching bring. Missing the start of the 2022-23 school year will be hard, at least for a bit.

“I'm also planning a beach trip around that time, so I will not miss it for super long,” Glibbery said.

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