Wake County school leaders are holding a hiring blitz this Saturday, hoping to fix their big shortage of special education teachers. Traditional classes are starting in just a few weeks and time is running out.
Leslie Welch, of Cary, is the proud mother of 10-year-old, Joshua. She explained, "He has autism. He is also bipolar, non-verbal. He is not potty trained. He's also funny, and happy and smart."
Welch is the Wake County chapter leader of the Autism Society of North Carolina. She said Joshua has had a special education teacher all his life. Welch was alarmed of the county's shortage of about 40 teachers.
"I've never really seen anything like this at this level," said Welch.
Karen Hamilton, Assistant Superintendent of Special Education Services in Wake County, said she was also baffled. "I think we're seeing fewer candidates come out of the universities and we're seeing children with very specific needs so it takes some very special people who want to fill those positions," Hamilton said.
She said there are roughly 150,000 students in Wake County and about 20,000 of them are special needs.
"We're talking about children with autism, children with intellectual disabilities and children who have serious emotional disabilities" said Hamilton.
Special education teachers who are passionate about what they do say they hope prospective teachers won't be intimidated by the challenge, but rather embrace it.
"I love my job, I love my kids. They're the reason why I get up every day" said Robin Goins of Kingswood Elementary in Cary. "You just need that passion to work with those kids and to deal with all those things."
The hiring blitz is happening Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., at the Harriet Webster Center in Cary.