Fairfax Co. considering recruiting teachers from Barbados to address shortage

Leaders in Virginia’s largest school system are working with the Barbados Ministry of Education to explore the possibility of recruiting teachers from the Caribbean island to address its staffing shortage.

In an email to the Fairfax County School Board, obtained by WTOP via a Freedom of Information Act request, Superintendent Michelle Reid said the county is exploring “forming a partnership in an effort to bring qualified teachers to Fairfax County.”

The partnership under consideration is “in an effort to assist the Division with its teacher shortage,” Reid wrote. Before the school year began, Reid said teacher positions were 99% staffed.

The program is the latest example of D.C.-area school districts considering different ways to recruit new teachers and staff members in the middle of nationwide staffing challenges. The idea stemmed from two current Fairfax County teachers who came from Barbados in 1995 and who, since arriving, have become U.S. citizens, Reid said.

In a presentation shared with Barbados education officials last month, the county said it is considering a three-phase approach to the partnership. Phase 2, tentatively scheduled for June 2023-June 2024, includes recruitment efforts and Fairfax County plans for infrastructure, including assisting with housing. An exchange program, under the plan detailed in the presentation, would begin in June 2024.

During a meeting this month, Fairfax County school leadership is expected to learn more about the country’s education system and present to the Barbados teachers union.

Barbadians were able to begin applying to jobs in the county in September and can continue to do so between November and March. Officials from both jurisdictions are planning monthly meetings to learn more about how transitions for interested teachers can be “affordable and smooth,” according to the presentation.

Interested teachers will be required to have a Virginia Department of Education-approved degree and course transcripts. They will also have to qualify for one of the state’s alternative routes to getting a license, and would have to apply for an official statement of eligibility document from the state before applying for jobs in the county.

A list of vacancies in the county is available online.

Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

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