The teaching profession can be one of the most rewarding occupations a person can undertake in life. A teacher has an opportunity to help shape young minds while preparing children for a bright future ahead. It is a rewarding profession, and one that we wish more people would pursue locally.

A good example of the pressing need for qualified teachers can be found in McDowell County where school officials are facing a challenge five days before the scheduled start of the 2014-2015 school year. The problem is that there are still about a dozen full-time teaching positions in the county that have to be filled before the start of school on Aug. 18.

If those vacant positions are not filled with permanent teachers soon, the board will be forced to search for substitutes, according to School Superintendent Nelson Spencer.

But, thankfully, word is getting out about the teacher shortages and potential candidates are stepping forward to apply for positions. Although he didn’t have an updated number as of Wednesday, Spencer said several teacher candidates have come in to the central office in Welch in recent days to sign up for vacant teaching positions. However, Spencer says he is not sure if all of the positions can be filled by Monday. As a result, substitute teachers may still have to be used to fill some vacant positions.

Spencer says mathematics teachers in particular are in short supply and substitutes may be the board’s best option.

Complicating matters is the fact that the school system has had about 40 different teacher resignations over the summer. Spencer says the school system is prohibited from using fiscal incentives to attract teachers to the area. He says the best chance the school system has to attract teachers is improved infrastructure, including modern housing and roads.

The new Renaissance Village should make a big difference in terms of housing for teachers. The project is being developed at the former site of the old Best Furniture and Katzen buildings in downtown Welch. The so-called teacher’s village will have approximately 30 housing units, community amenities such as a street-level coffee shop, and common areas for teachers and other residents to relax and collaborate.

But construction on the project is expected to take about 24 months to complete. And qualified teachers are needed now in McDowell County. It is our hope that educators across our region will answer the call to duty, and help ensure that classrooms across McDowell County are properly equipped with skilled educators come Monday.

Youngsters across McDowell County are expecting to have good, qualified full-time teachers in the classroom. Please don’t disappoint them.