Sarina Falahaty

Long-term math substitute teacher George Padgett explains a concept to his period 4 statistics class on Oct. 3.

Math teacher position still vacant after eight months

To fill a vacant math teacher position, long-term substitute George Padgett teaches advanced math classes alongside the online learning program Edgenuity.

October 4, 2022

As the fall semester began, senior Joseph Botti was surprised to see that there wasn’t a new math teacher among the staff for the new school year.

“I was shocked they still weren’t able to get (a math teacher),” Botti said. “They had all summer to try to hire someone, and the fact that they weren’t able to, shows that not a lot of people want to be teachers.”

A math teacher position at Daniel Pearl Magnet High School (DPMHS) has been vacant for about eight months after former math teacher Lori Seo left the school in February. Following the shortage of teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), there has been a significant lack of math teachers specifically. Principal Armen Petrossian interviewed six candidates for a math teacher position in the spring semester, however none were hired. Some accepted other positions or had personal difficulties, while others were just not qualified enough to teach at DPMHS.

“We want to make sure that we have not only a candidate, but a candidate who is going to do a good job with our students,” Petrossian said. “We don’t want to hire just anyone.”

Meanwhile, the position is temporarily being filled by long-term substitute George Padgett, who currently teaches geometry, precalculus and statistics. His curriculum includes whiteboard lectures, textbook work, quizzes and Edgenuity as a grade booster. Most students have no problem with the class but some of them don’t really favor Edgenuity.

“I’m personally motivated by deadlines (but) Edgenuity just doesn’t have those hard deadlines that help me and that tell me to go and move, which makes it quite difficult to remind (myself) to get started on things and really work and focus,” said sophomore Andre Arcilla, who is currently taking geometry.

The need for qualified math teachers has become crucial as DPMHS math Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) scores have been dropping over the last three years and into the pandemic. In 2019, only 19% met SBAC standards while 55% did not meet standards. Not only did DPMHS see a decrease in math scores but LAUSD as a whole experienced a drop in math standards over the course of the pandemic.

During the hiring process, math teacher Tuan “Duke” Huynh has specific qualities he is looking for in his next permanent co-worker. He wants DPMHS to have a good math teacher who can be a strong model for students to follow. 

“I want somebody who is a good person, not just really good at math,” Duke said. “I believe that being good at math doesn’t make you a good math teacher. A good teacher has to care, has to be compassionate, has to understand what the students are going through. That they all have their own stories.”

Prior to working at DPMHS, Padgett worked as the principal of Stoney Point High School for 21 years and he also has experience teaching math and science. He’s been teaching at LAUSD for 35 years and plans to teach at DPMHS for at least the rest of the school year until a permanent teacher is found.

“I plan to be here because there’s a great need for these students to finish the higher level math classes and to have a consistent teacher as opposed to various substitutes coming and going,” Padgett said.

Both students and teachers have been missing former math teacher Seo. Students have said they loved her kind personality and how enjoyable her class was. After she left, some were disappointed that they would not have her as a teacher again or at all.

“I was really sad to hear about her leaving as I had planned to take her (class) for precalculus this year,” junior Cheyanne Losino said. “I liked how she made sure everyone understood before moving on and worked individually with us when we didn’t understand. I loved everything about her class and was disappointed that I couldn’t take it again.”

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