Help Wanted:

Teachers and more needed as everyone heads back to school

By Susan Nolan

All summer long, news outlets across the United States have been reporting on the teacher shortage. If you are the parent or guardian of a student in Anne Arundel County, you have likely seen the local updates. 

At last count, AACPS was reporting 385 school-based teaching vacancies. The school system is scrambling to fill those and other critical needs positions before students return to class on Aug. 29. 

Deborah Montgomery, manager of the AACC/AACPS Alternative Certification Program and member of the AACPS Office of Professional Growth and Development, is part of a team working to address the shortage. At various times during the year, she hosts So You Think You Can Teach workshops aimed at recruiting non-teaching professionals into the field of education. In these weeks leading up to the 2022-2023 school year, she is busy running a “boot camp” for new teachers. 

“Boot Camp is a series of daylong workshops for our newly hired conditional teachers,” she explains. “Conditional teachers are people who have been hired to teach, but do not yet have certification.”

In the past, teachers were required to have certification before stepping foot into the classroom. In recent years, that has changed. Now, new teachers are required only to have a four-year degree from an accredited university or college. They earn their certification as they teach. “We call them career changers. They come from all walks of life, and they are the hardest working people I know,” says Montgomery. 

There are three routes to certification. The first is to enroll in a masters of teaching program at a college or university. The other two routes to certification are Resident Teacher Certification programs. The first route involves college coursework in education, professional development, mentorship, an internship and a residency lasting between a year and a half and two and a half years. The other is a panel interview process in which the teacher works independently.

All three routes are available to new special education, middle and high school teachers. By mid-fall, Montgomery hopes to implement a RTC program for potential elementary school teachers. 

Montgomery began her own teaching career over 50 years ago. She moved from the classroom into administration before becoming a recruiter for AACPS. Through her experience, she has found that all successful teachers possess two qualities: relationship-building skills that foster a safe-space for learning and being a life-long learner themselves.

Annapolis resident Molly Sinnott Little has those qualities. Now entering her fifth year teaching English and Global Community Citizenship at Arundel High, Little has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Yale. She spent two years as a strategy analyst and consultant for Deloitte before deciding to make a career change.

“For me, it was a matter of realizing that the people I respected the most were teachers. Teachers were the ones who had made the biggest impact on my life,” she says. Her mother teaches at Tracys Landing Elementary School, her husband at Crofton High School.

She took a long-term substitute teaching position while contemplating the career change and then enrolled in a RTC in the summer of 2018.

She has no regrets. “I can’t think of any other job in which the rewards are as high as the demands,” she says. 

So, do you think you can teach? If so, go to and apply for a teaching position. 

Supporting Students Outside the Classroom 

Not every career on a school campus requires a four-year degree. AACPS has plenty of job openings that require no more than a high school diploma. Some are full-time and come with a benefits package. Others are part-time and offer flexibility. All come with friendly, helpful colleagues who will tell you every job has its challenges, but few have the rewards that come with working with students.  

“I love my job,” says Michelle Claycomb, “Otherwise, I wouldn’t have stayed as long as I have.” Claycomb is a crossing guard at Arundel High School in Gambrills, Arundel Middle School and Piney Orchard Elementary School in Odenton. 

The Severn resident began her career over 27 years ago when her son started kindergarten. “I had been a stay-at-home-mom and I really wanted a job that would allow me to be off when he wasn’t in school,” she explains, “At the time, I thought I’d move onto something else once he was older, but all these years later, I am still here.” 

In 2019, Claycomb and her partner Tonia Beaty were nominated for Safety Officer of the Year for Western Anne Arundel County, but according to her, the appreciation she feels goes beyond plaques and ceremonies. “I know people appreciate what we do. The kids, the parents, and even just the people in the neighborhood smile and wave and say ‘thank you,’” she says. “I know I am helping them get a good start to their day.” 

Students sometimes recognize Claycomb in other settings. When they do, they always speak. At the end of the year, some of them want to have a picture taken with her. Having worked as a crossing guard for so long, she says it is a special treat when former students, now adults, will stop by for a visit. 

Does she witness behavior problems? “The elementary school and high school students are always good. Sometimes the middle school kids won’t want to obey the rules, but you tell them what you expect and then, they are fine,” she says. “And I work closely with the school resource officers. I haven’t had any problems with behavior.”  

She also sees the split schedule—a couple of hours in the morning and then again in the afternoon—as an added perk. “I get my errands and chores done in the middle of the day, and I always have my evenings and weekends free,” she states.

While being outdoors in inclement weather may be seen as the downside to the job, Claycomb says the solution is to dress appropriately. The county provides crossing guards with uniforms, including a coat. “Besides, you are really only outside for 30 to 35 minutes per school,” she adds.

Crossing guards work 10 to 32 hours per week from the start of the school year until it concludes in June. They get paid holidays, snow days and teacher workdays, too.

Claycomb also works training new crossing guards. “I love doing the trainings,” she says, “because I know this is a good job for so many people.” The position is not only attractive for stay-at-home parents returning to the workforce, but for retirees, too. 

Crossing guards are employees of the Anne Arundel County Police Department, interested applicants should contact Coordinator Thelma Swigert at 410-222-6866 or 410-222-6867 or email her at [email protected]

Caring for Children

“We are always hiring,” says Tammy Anderson, Chief of Child Care Services for Anne Arundel County Recreation and Parks. Her division runs the before-school and after care programs throughout the county.

Students—high school and college—are among Anderson’s favorite employees. “Even with the school start time change, this is a job that could work well for a high school student doing a work-study program,” she says.

Anderson, who started her career with Anne Arundel County 21 years ago at the before and after care program at Lothian Elementary, says the childcare programs offer opportunities for growth and advancement. “We will pay for the college coursework to get certified,” she adds, “That’s a rare thing these days.” 

Retirees are another group who should consider working in the childcare program, says Anderson. “Anyone who enjoys working with young people should apply,” she says. 

Because the childcare programs can be found in schools across the county, Anderson says one of the perks is the ability to work close to home. 

“We take geographic area into account. If someone says they only want to work in the southern portion of the county, we can place them there.” 

Year-round employment is also a possibility as Child Care Services staffs summer camps when school is not in session. Need more hours during the school year? “Child care jobs work well with food service and other positions within the school system. You can even work more than one job at the same location,” Anderson says.

Even with all the perks, Anderson says the people are the best part of the job. “We are like a family here. We really care about each other. Working in the before and after care programs gives people a sense of being connected.” 

To apply or learn more, call 410-222-7856 Ext. 0 or go to

‘I like the challenge’

“Fifty years is a long time,” says Louis Queen.  He should know. That’s how long he has worked for AACPS.

The Anne Arundel County native began his career as a student in a work-study program while still attending Arundel High School. Now, he supervises the custodial staff at Four Seasons Elementary School in Gambrills. 

“A lot has changed,” he says, “But this is still a good job for someone who works hard and wants to learn.” 

Over the years, Queen has learned to maintain the school’s HVAC and other systems. He takes pride in keeping the school clean, safe, and efficient. “I’ve worked closely with the guys from central maintenance and learned what I can so that I don’t have to call them every time something breaks. I like the challenge of keeping the equipment in good shape,” he says.

He also enjoys being around the students. “Lunch is my favorite time of day,” he says. “I’m in the cafeteria with the kids. They come up to me, talk to me, tell me about their day.” 

He says he works to be a positive role model and to keep morale high. “Even kids have bad days,” he says, “and you want to help them all you can.”  

With five decades under his belt, Queen has had a chance to see generations of students grow up and move on. “Some of them are doctors and lawyers now. Some of them own businesses and have gone on to do great things,” he says. 

His pride in the students he has met and helped nurture over the years is apparent. He remembers a young Denny Neagle who grew up to play Major League baseball and former County Councilman Jamie Benoit. 

The walls of Queen’s office prove the students hold him in high regard. The pictures they have drawn for him and the notes they have written to him hang alongside a citation from the governor, a newspaper article about his long career and his many certificates of achievement. 

“Staying with this job has been rewarding,” he says, “I’d do it again.” 

AACPS currently has 90 part-time and full-time custodial staff vacancies at locations throughout the county. Go to to apply. 

Feeding Young Minds

“Earning your own money is empowering,” says Harriet Lowry, Food Service Manager for Germantown Elementary School in Annapolis. 

Fifteen years ago, Lowry was a stay-at-home-mom looking to re-enter the workforce. “I had worked in property management previously and I knew I didn’t want to go back to that,” she says.

In the food service division, the Severna Park resident found what she was looking for. “It’s a low stress job with great hours and great people,” she says. She started part-time and gradually took on more responsibility. 

“I find working with the kids rewarding,” she says. She tries to get them to try different foods and is always thrilled when a student recognizes her away from the school. “I love to hear a student yell, ‘there’s my lunch lady’ when they see me in the store.” 

Her most poignant work experience came during the pandemic. “I’ll never forget. I was eating dinner with my husband when I got the call. My supervisor said the schools were closing. I could stay home and still collect a paycheck or I could keep working. I didn’t even have to think about it. Of course, I kept working,” she says. 

Lowry and others in food service spent the pandemic packing lunches and passing them out to students every weekday. “I think it was important for morale and continuity,” she says. “Those lunches were the only physical contact kids had with the school during that time.”

She says the pandemic gave her the opportunity to meet the parents of the students, too. “When you work in the lunchroom, you don’t see the parents, but during Covid, they would drive up to the school with the kids in the car, and we got to meet,” she says. “It was during this time our PTA really stepped up, too. They got us matching t-shirts.” 

As of Aug. 3, AACPS had 234 food service vacancies. To apply, visit