ORLANDO, Fla. — The new school year is underway across Central Florida, but experts say the outlook in classrooms could differ from years past. Many districts are still battling teacher vacancies in the classroom, even as kids file into class.

What You Need To Know

  • As the current school year started, Orange County Public Schools officials reported having about 100 teacher vacancies

  • According to a National Education Association poll, 55% of teachers say they will leave the profession sooner than originally planned
  • Some teachers say they have quit in order to seek employment in the private sector

This school year isn't the first go-around for Lindsey Zema — who has nearly a decade of teaching under her belt.

As she picks out curriculum for her new students, she says that even though the basics of English or math don’t change, this year is going to vary from from the others because she won't be returning to the crowded hallways of a big school.

“I was just kind of tired of constantly trying to stay positive in a negative environment,” she said.

Instead, this year Zema has been hired by a family to homeschool their three children.

Over the summer, she picked up a freelance writing job from home and decided to say goodbye to working for Orange County Public Schools.

According to a National Education Association poll, 55% of teachers say they will leave the profession sooner than originally planned.

Spectrum News checked in with a few local school districts as school began. Orange County Public Schools reported having roughly 100 teacher vacancies as the school year started.

School officials in Osceola County said they have about 200 instructional openings. And Seminole County officials reported that they are still looking to fill about 60 full-time teaching positions, as well as 24 para-professional jobs.

“A lot of the reason that I think a lot of teachers leave, and myself included, has to do with morale and environment,” Zema said.

She said one of her main stressors was standardized testing scores.

Administration officials applauded or reprimanded teachers based on their student’s performance, but it was an unfair bar, she said, because each class had different kids with different test-taking abilities.

She said she hopes her new job as a homeschool teacher will allow more time for her to do other things she enjoys.

“This new job means that I will have a lot more time and flexibility to be able to take care of those things," Zema said. 

So, her new classroom will be inside a suburban home, her class size will only be three kids, and while her job will still center on students, she says this new move will mean she’s looking out for herself, too.

You can log onto fldoe.org/teaching/recruitment for more information on how to request an employment application for teacher jobs across the state.