Iqaluit principals complain they can’t find substitute teachers
No applicants for Inuktut language specialist job at Inuksuk High School
Iqaluit schools don’t have the substitute teachers they need, and the shortage sometimes forces schools to cancel classes, members of Iqaluit’s District Education Authority heard from school principals and vice principals at a meeting on Monday.
“We are in an extreme crunch for substitutes right now,” Jay Thomas, the principal of Inuksuk High School, said May 14 in a report to the DEA.
“It’s extremely tight,” he said.
At the high school, two regular substitutes are now filling in for teachers who are on long-term leave.
To fill that new gap in substitute teachers, a university student who is studying education is being flown in from the South to teach on-call for the spring.
And after he did a presentation to students in the Nunavut Teacher Education Program at Nunavut Arctic College, Thomas said only one second-year NTEP student is willing to substitute teach for the current school year.
“I think we’re covered, but it’s a real struggle,” he said. “I can’t emphasize what a challenge it is.”
Cody Prusky, the principal of Nakasuk Elementary School, emphasized the shortage when he said, “Finding subs? There aren’t any.”
The shortage of substitute teachers isn’t a new thing, Doug Workman, chair of the IDEA, told Nunatsiaq News.
This week, when two teachers called in sick on the same day, the elementary school’s physical education class and literacy program were cancelled so that staff running programs could cover other classes.
“Like other principals have mentioned, substitutes are a major challenge,” said Scott MacDonald, the vice principal of Joamie Elementary School.
But the hiring of new teachers is going well this year and two term positions are now filled at Joamie, MacDonald said, adding that two elders are working full days at the school to teach Inuit culture and language.
When school started last fall, 63 teaching jobs were unfilled in Nunavut schools throughout the territory.
In Iqaluit, only the French-language school, Ecole des Trois-Soleils, started the current school year with a full roster of teaching staff.
That school is run by its own francophone school commission and was not discussed at the meeting.
Eight jobs are filled at Aqsarniit Ilinniarvik Middle School, four internally and four with new staff who are transferring from other schools and communities in Nunavut.
At Inuksuk High School, competitions have just closed for chemistry and English teaching jobs and the school has a new physical education teacher.
But an open job for an Inuktut language teacher remains empty and there aren’t any prospective hires for that job.
“We had one round of competitions for that, and no applicants. Now it’s open until filled,” Thomas said.
Last fall, MLAs killed Bill 37, which would have amended the 2008 Education Act to delay full implementation of Inuktitut language instruction in Nunavut schools until the GN acquired the capacity to do it.
Meanwhile, “I am concerned about filling a vacant language specialist position,” Thomas said.