Long Wait List for Support

By Chelsea Woods, First Grade Teacher from Klamath Falls, OR

My mom inspired me to be an educator. Initially, I didn’t think I wanted to be a teacher, but when I graduated from college, I came back home and started volunteering in her classroom. I recognized I really love working with kids and came to the realization that I wanted to do something that mattered in the world. Teaching is one of the most phenomenal things you can do. I wish education were one of the more valued occupations in our society. There is a real disconnect between people who realize how important education is and our society making it a priority.

“Any time a community is losing teachers, it’s a big deal. We don’t want to lose any teachers. Anytime layoffs happen, morale goes down, and not just for the staff. Parents are very worried and concerned.”

One of the reasons I wanted to come back here to teach is because in Klamath Falls, we have one of the highest rates of poverty in the state. This really impacts our school communities. Many of our students already lead traumatized lives. We get kids coming in who have seen awful things in their young lives, and they bring that into the classroom. We often have students who have extreme behaviors. When I say extreme behaviors, I’m talking about hitting, kicking, throwing things, knocking over tables and chairs, and running out of the classroom. When you have students doing that, it really impacts the entire class. We do have one school in our community that provides specialized supports for these students, but the wait list to attend that school is very long. The kids who need it the most often don’t get in.

We need to have funding to provide programs like this, and we need to have better supports for interventions for students who have traumatic backgrounds and severe behavioral issues. This includes more funding at the pre-K level. Research shows so completely that if we have funding at the early childhood level, we can work to fix a lot of the problems students are having. Funding to allow for lower class sizes is also important. With our population, having those smaller class sizes would allow us to help attend to those students who need additional support.

Any time a community is losing teachers, it’s a big deal. We don’t want to lose any teachers. Anytime layoffs happen, morale goes down, and not just for the staff. Parents are very worried and concerned. Eventually, parents will let their children know, and students will be concerned because they care about their teachers. So there is a real human impact from these cuts in more ways than one. We need state representatives who understand what is happening in our schools and who are committed to solving the problems that with which schools are faced.

Chelsea Woods is a First Grade Teacher from Klamath Falls, OR #OREducatorVoices

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