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'We're competing for the same people' | Teacher shortages continue to challenge Houston area school districts

Houston ISD still has more than 200 vacancies, down from more than 500 at the beginning of the school year.

HOUSTON, Texas — He's not much older than many students.

"My name is Danny," said Aldine ISD teacher Danny Siegel. "Otherwise known as Mr. Siegel by my students.”

Siegel is one of the district's newest middle school language arts teachers.

He's a Florida native learning the ropes in Texas thanks to non-profit partner Teach for America.

“I knew I wanted to do something that would have a transformative impact or a positive impact on society," said Siegel.  "Because I knew that would be the most fulfilling thing and make me feel best as a profession.”

Right now, educators like Siegel are in high demand in districts across the nation.

"At one point at the beginning of the year, we were still over 500, 600 vacancies,” said Houston ISD senior manager of talent acquisition Alejandro Gonzalez.

He said the district’s deficit now stands at around 200 teachers.

Central office staff and even retired teachers are among those who’ve helped fill in the gaps.

"The biggest challenge I think right now is just finding certified teachers," said Gonzalez. "People that just want to come into the profession.”

Social media videos are helping get the word out.

EDUCATION STATION: More coverage of local school districts

And there are regularly scheduled job fairs and outreach on college campuses.

"It’s definitely hard and there’s a lot of teacher burnout,” said Siegel.

Added incentives are among the ways many districts are enticing teachers like him.

"But at the end of the day it’s building those relationships with students that really make it worth it,” said Siegel.

Retaining current teachers is another big challenge given what the last couple of years have been like.

Information on an HISD job fair this weekend:

Credit: HISD

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