More than 50% of new Memphis teachers quit. Here’s what the district is doing to reverse the trend.

By: | May 27, 2021

A week into the fall semester of 2020, Rocio Agundis, a second grade teacher at Willow Oaks Elementary School, decided to call it quits.

The pandemic brought on challenges for Agundis, including a hectic adjustment to virtual learning, low attendance rates, technology issues, and missed instructional time. Dealing with these issues served as a breaking point for Agundis, who had been contemplating leaving the teaching profession since her first year in 2017.

Agundis is part of a growing group of young professionals who have left teaching. According to data from the University of Pennsylvania, 44% of new teachers leave the profession within five years. In many urban districts like Shelby County Schools, the turnover rate is even higher at more than 50%, according to a district report.

Local school leaders are hoping that higher pay, more classroom support, and aggressive recruiting will help bring in new hires who will stay.

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