SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - A former Savannah-Chatham County Public School System teacher is speaking out after resigning from her role as an educator of 15 years.
She says it came as a result of many educators being misunderstood, and even targeted by some unhappy parents.
Korri Ray loved being a teacher and spent the past seven years in the district, but that all came to an end in December after she says she couldn’t take it anymore.
“I got backed into a corner where my mental health, my physical health my family’s health were all being impacted because of the workload, because of this job,” Ray said.
When the pandemic hit, she carried on serving students.
“Parents were super supportive; the community was super supportive.”
She says teachers adapted and were praised, but she says that sentiment quickly changed with the start of a new school year as others headed back to the classroom.
“We came back in August and it was just like a light switch had been flipped and everything changed and suddenly we were becoming more of an enemy to the community.”
She says she stuck it out for her students and continued on until the November board meeting. She feels it displayed a lack of understanding on the challenges teachers were up against and put teachers back in the building regardless of the data. She submitted her resignation just days later.
“You know it was the hardest decision I faced probably in my life. This was probably that decision that I went ‘what am I doing is this the right choice?’”
Korri Ray’s last day with Savannah-Chatham was December 18. She posted a closing message on Facebook and to her surprise, it resonated with thousands all over the country.
“Just a teacher from Savannah, Georgia suddenly said something that impacted a lot of people and it showed me that there definitely has to be a change. There’s got to be something done for educators that we’re missing the mark somewhere.”
While it broke her heart to leave students, she hopes to be an advocate for educators now. To give them a voice.
“I am leaving with my head held high knowing that you come to a dead-end and you got to go left, or you got to go right and this is one of those ends I’m at that I just have to go left or right, but it’s not the end. It’s not the end for my educational career something is coming up, I just don’t know what but it’s going to be big and I’m ready for it.”
Korri says she understands the challenges of both the school board and families in the district and hopes we all can listen to the perspective of others to create a dialogue to move forward.
While this is just one teacher’s perspective we did reach out to the Savannah-Chatham County School District about teacher resignations.
Since July 2, 2020 until December 31, 2020. they have seen 75 certified employees resign. Six of them citing COVID-19 related reasons. They tell us there are currently 36 teacher vacancies.
The district sent WTOC this statement, “Our resignation numbers are actually lower than we usually see at this time of year. We have the Employee Assistance Program that is free to staff. We have shared many other resources available through Chatham Safety Net including the attachment of a new service specific to COVID concerns.”
We also spoke on the phone to the School Board President, Dr. Joe Buck, who says he appreciates the hard work of teachers and says he continues to think of them with every decision. He says the board has worked to listen to staff through surveys, a faculty senate and more.
He says he will continue to try making the best decisions he can for the district.
“Not trying to make allowances for anything except to say that this has been and continues to be a most difficult time. Nothing that can be done pleases everyone and that is not a matter of trying to please as much as it is my own personal feeling as the Board President of Savannah-Chatham Board of Public Education is that we work as hard as we can to keep our employees and our students safe and hopefully provide educational opportunities so that the students can continue to learn,” said Dr. Buck.
And again, Savannah-Chatham County students continue their second semester next week for virtual learning only.
District officials say January 21 is the earliest they would re-examine the indicators and make any announcement of a return to a hybrid model.