Former Mesa teacher talks about why she left the profession

Arizona experiencing sky-high teacher shortages
Arizona's Family reporter Kylee Cruz spoke with one former teacher about why she decided to leave the profession.
Published: Aug. 29, 2022 at 12:39 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- It’s widely known that a teacher shortage is impacting our state and our education. Now, we’re hearing from former teachers to talk about the reasons why they left the profession.

Lupita Almanza, a former second-grade teacher, recently walked away from teaching after 11 years. She previously taught for Mesa Public Schools. She says the demands, high stress, lack of respect, political climate, and low pay were all factors in her decision.

As Arizona’s Family previously reported, our teachers are some of the lowest paid in the nation. And with herself being a single mom, Lupita says she struggled to pay her bills and provide for her Family.

A recent survey shows 2,300 teaching vacancies in the state, and across the nation, nearly 300,000 public school teachers have left the profession since the start of the pandemic.

“It was my identity for so long. And I spent so much of my time in my classroom. I saw students more than I would see my own daughter so, and they still remember their names and things like that. And so it’s hard,” said Almanza. “It was hard to say goodbye, and I still feel a little sad that I couldn’t stay with it because I always thought that I would, you know, retire from teaching and sit in my rocking chair and do read-aloud so that I had all gray hair like that was my vision for myself.”

Recent efforts have also been made to combat the shortage. In May, Mesa Public Schools offered all employees a 4% salary increase. With the average teacher salary being $56,000, it will bump pay on average by more than $2,000. Arizona’s Family also previously reported on a proposed plan by a Republican lawmaker to add $10,000 to teacher salaries by using money from the general fund and a revenue surplus.

For now, many districts are using a mix of using long-term subs, increasing class sizes, and putting instructional coaches back in the classroom.