Texas’ teacher shortage is affecting the youngest and most vulnerable children -- schools need early childhood education teachers for special needs students.
What many people may not notice when they peer inside a classroom of 4-year-old students is exactly what KeAira Perry sees when she looks at her son.
“He’s made so much progress to where he’s almost walking now,” KeAira Perry said.
Samir is one of a handful of children in this inclusive and therapeutic Pre-K program, with two teachers in the classroom, custom-tailored for special needs students.
“Special education teachers are angels, right,” Perry said.
Abigail Erickson-Torres agrees.
She’s the CEO of Bryan’s House, a Dallas-based nonprofit which serves as a unique one-stop-shop for at-risk families. The place where developmental care and therapies geared to each child’s needs merge together in an educational setting for children ranging from infants to age 5.
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“We cannot wait, these children need an early intervention,” Erickson-Torres said.
But lately, the waiting has gone on.
Some classrooms sit empty and dark now because the shortage of teachers in some K-12 schools trickles down here too.
“When we reopened back in August of this year, we thought we wouldn’t have any problem finding teachers,” Erickson-Torres said.
Bryan’s House said it is now down four teachers and two assistants, which means 30 special needs kids who should be filling these seats and receiving therapy care, are at home instead.
“Teachers, they’ve had such a rough time the last two years, going back into the classroom might not be their first choice,” Erickson-Torres said.
But Bryan’s House hopes it will be their next choice.
Erickson-Torres said experienced, retired teachers with the heart to work with a young special needs population could be just the right fit for this non-profit.
“The teachers that we need have to understand the depths and breadth of our services and they will fall in love with Bryan’s House,” Erickson-Torres said.