PCHS Navigates Nationwide Teacher Shortage


Photo credit: Caterina Erlinger

Around the country, teachers are leaving their profession in droves. Many cite a lack of substantial pay, COVID, and increased pressure from parents. 


This trend has not left Park City High School untouched. 


Two PCHS teachers resigned last minute, leaving the school to scramble for cover. Megan McKenna, who taught AP Environmental Science, and Tyler Wise, who taught Business Management, Financial Literacy, and Intro to Law, both resigned before the beginning of this school year. 


In response, the PCHS administration has recently made a new hire to fill Ms. McKenna’s spot. The new hire, Mr. Morone, began teaching in late September.


As Mr. Wise’s spot remains unfilled, other PCHS teachers have been taking over his classes. 


According to teachers and staff, the mass resignation of teachers is a combination of pressures stemming from parents, COVID-related workload, and lack of pay. 


After leaving her position at PCHS, McKenna gave insight into her resignation from teaching in an NPR interview that aired on August 21. 


With COVID, the workload has increased. Each year, the demands from parents, from legislators, from school districts, and the lack of trust and respect that we’ve been given as professionals — I just reached my breaking point,” said McKenna. 


McKenna’s statement reflects the sentiments of many teachers around the country and shows how these different stress factors have taken a toll on their work.


The most common stressor that teachers cite is COVID. The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 led to school closures and difficult teaching conditions for the next two years. Utah teachers were required to teach online from March to June 2020, and in the subsequent year, they were required to maintain online and in-person classes as well as mitigate the potential risks that in-person teaching brought.


“COVID…changed the nature of the game… The workload doubled because teachers were required to maintain online classrooms while simultaneously teaching the students in front of them,” says Anna Williams, ESL and Debate teacher at PCHS. 


Another cause for teachers’ resignations is pay. Around the country, teachers have lamented the low pay and argue that it doesn’t reflect the value of their work. 


“Some people are saying the compensation isn’t good enough, that doesn’t necessarily happen as much at PCHS because our teachers are compensated really well,” said PCHS Principal Roger Arbabi. 


McKenna also cited the increasing concern parents around the country have taken regarding their children’s education in public schools, which ranges from COVID-related issues such as mask-wearing to curriculum scrutiny and teachers’ conduct in the classroom. 


There are a group of parents in Utah who feel that they need to have more say in … what’s being taught in the school systems, and I think that the Utah legislation to a certain point is agreeing with some of the aspects of what [the parents] are talking about,” said Arbabi. 


Despite these stress factors, PCHS staff reportedly say that this year is the best one since the beginning of COVID. 


 “I’ve actually talked to many of our teachers who feel like we’ve had our best start in the last three years because we’ve kind of put COVID in the rearview mirror,” said Arbabi.


After two years of increased workloads, teachers’ jobs are finally returning to normal.


“This is the first year within the past two years where…I’ve felt like it’s been a return to normal. We’ve actually returned to normalcy and it feels so good!” said Williams.