AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has assigned 24 additional teachers to the Teacher Vacancy Task Force in response to a recommendation made by the task force and from local educators and education advocacy groups.

The task force is responsible for addressing ongoing staffing concerns in districts across the state. The TEA said the task force is working to find teacher-shaped solutions and create policy recommendations that firmly supports the needs of teachers. 

The 24 educators brings the task force to a total of 52 members — 26 teachers and 26 school system administrators. 

TEA said it got more than 1,500 nominations for task force membership during the submission period.   

“Teachers are the single most-important, school-based factor affecting student outcomes. And the Teacher Vacancy Task Force will further ensure our ability to provide the best guidance, support and resources to help schools find and retain the teachers they need for all their students. Having these two-dozen additional perspectives from a diverse and talented pool of Texas classroom teachers is going to immensely benefit the important considerations before the Task Force,” Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath said. 

Earlier this month, more than 400 Texas teachers, counselors, administrators, student teachers and other school personnel from the Association of Texas Professional Educators (ATPE) responded to a survey seeking feedback on why educators are leaving the profession. 

Workload, compensation, disconnection and students were some factors they said caused the mass exodus.  Many educators said students’ time away from the structure of school routines, as well as loosened requirements during the pandemic, such as passing to the next grade without demonstrating mastery, have hindered students’ behavior and academic habits. 

Based on survey responses, ATPE had four detailed recommendations, which include honoring the work/life balance by developing leave pools and compensation for hours outside of the normal workday. The organization is also pushing for employing retired teachers to serve as paid mentors. Educators also hope veteran workers are paid based on their experience.

Here are the new teachers selected to the Teacher Vacancy Task Force, according to the TEA’s website. At least three teachers (those italicized) are from school districts here in the KXAN viewing area.

  • Linda Galvan – Los Fresnos United, Los Fresnos CISD (High School English 1 & 2, SPED/Resource, ESL) 
  • Cynthia Hopkins – Kaffie Middle School, Corpus Christi ISD (7th & 8th Grade Science) 
  • Kimberly Davis – Goliad Middle School, Goliad ISD (7th Grade ELAR, 6th-8th Grade Gifted and Talented) 
  • Vania Amado – Lula Belle Goodman Elementary, Fort Bend ISD (4th Grade Bilingual ELAR & Social Studies) 
  • Changela Burns – Summer Creek High School, Humble ISD (High School English 1) 
  • Sadie Atha – East Chambers High School, East Chambers ISD (High School English 3 & 4, AP Literature) 
  • Cody Knott – Caldwell High School, Caldwell ISD (6th-12th Grade Band Director, Fine Arts Director) 
  • Brian Kruk – Pineywoods Community Academy | Lufkin, Texas (High School Government/Economics, Coach) 
  • Joshua Sciara – DeKalb Middle School, DeKalb ISD (7th Grade Science, 6th-8th Grade STEAM, 8th Grade CTE Horticulture) 
  • Alexandra Fain – Booker T. Washington Elementary, Wichita Falls ISD (3rd Grade ELAR) 
  • Josue Tamarez Torres* – Cesar Chavez Learning Center, Dallas ISD (4th & 5th Grade Bilingual Math) 
  • Eric Hale – David G. Burnet Elementary, Dallas ISD (1st & 2nd Grade Self-Contained) 
  • Tiffany Kilcoyne – Hurst Junior High School, Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD (7th Grade English) 
  • Pam Fischer – Provident Heights Elementary, Waco ISD (PreK-5th Grade Physical Education) 
  • Valerie Haywood – Bastrop Middle School, Bastrop ISD (6th-8th Grade ESL) 
  • Jennifer Kuehne – Patsy Sommer Elementary, Round Rock ISD (K-5th Grade Special Education) 
  • Faye Urich – Haskell Elementary School, Haskell CISD (Early Childhood Special Education, PreK-3rd Grade) 
  • Tiffany Klaerner – Mason Elementary School, Mason ISD (PreK) 
  • Kisaundra Harris – Tascosa High School, Amarillo ISD (High School Anatomy and Physiology, Forensic Science) 
  • Natasha Garcia – Akin Elementary, Hale Center ISD (1st Grade Self-Contained) 
  • Raymond Falcón – Matthews Academy, Lubbock ISD (High School Algebra 1 & 2, Geometry, Mathematical Models, Spanish 1 & 2) 
  • Suzanne Kirkland – Forsan JR/SR High School, Forsan ISD (Business Information Management) 
  • Sergio Estrada – Riverside High School, Ysleta ISD (AP Physics) 
  • Janie Coheen – Elolf Elementary School, Judson ISD (PreK) 

The Task Force will have its first meeting as a complete group on June 2.