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Teacher Appreciation Week celebrates teachers, with ongoing teacher shortage

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CHATTAHOOCHEE, Fla. (WTXL) — It's Teacher Appreciation Week and while some teachers are feeling the love, there are still vacancies in the state of Florida that continue to grow each year.

Scott Mazur, president of the Leon Classroom Teachers Association, said the current climate is one where teachers are unable to make professional decisions.

"There's a lot of control over what teachers do in the classroom and at the end of the day when teachers voice their professional opinions about what's going on, there's no other pathway other than through the association or the union to have their voice be heard a lot of times," said Mazur.

Envision Credit Union was founded 70 years ago by 10 high school teachers. Kelli Walter, vice president of Community Development, said for teacher appreciation week they decided to honor ten teachers in the big bend with $500 gift cards with the hopes they would spend it on themselves.

"We know a lot of them spend their own money on items for their classrooms but with summer right around the corner we're really hoping they'll take some time to pamper themselves, fill their cups this summer, maybe go on a trip, maybe get their nails done," said Walter.

Mellany Wiggins, a 5th grade teacher at Chattahoochee Elementary School, was one of the ten winners. She's been a teacher for 16 years. She said it's rewarding seeing her students grow.

"What I like most about being an educator is the relationship I build with my students, the connection that I have with them is so amazing," Wiggins said. "And it's exciting to know people see your work and they appreciate it as well."

Mazur said filling vacancies in school districts is vital to a students education.

"Every person that we cannot fill whether it be a paraprofessional, a bus driver, a teacher, whatever that position is someone that's not there to build a relationship with students and support them in their educational experience," said Mazur.

He added the way to solve the teacher shortage is by investing in teachers.

"We have a career path that says this is what your career could look like, we value you so much. Whether it's the step piece, whether it's the security that's in there, whether it's in the retirement, whatever it is. Those things that have been diminished and attacked over the last few years have to be reinstated and rethought," said Mazur.

Teachers Appreciation Week wrapped up today but there are still a few weeks left in the school year. So make sure you find some time to show your child's teacher appreciation or if you know a teacher tell them thank you next time you see them.