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Amid a teacher shortage, Valdosta fifth graders help out teachers through Jr. Beta Club

Sallas Mahone Elementary students help their younger peers through one-on-one time.
Posted at 5:21 PM, Jan 23, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-23 17:21:59-05
  • Jr. Beta club members help teachers at Sallas Mahone with classroom responsibilities.
  • A recent survey found that three out of 10 teachers in the state would leave the profession in the next five years due to burnout and lack of help and resources.
  • Watch the video to hear from teacher and students about how the extra help alleviates the pressure.


It takes a village to educate a child, and this group of students are stepping up to the plate.

"It's really nice test seeing the kids and how they are and how happy they are and just knowing that you're making a difference and helping the teachers."

I'm Malia Thomas, back at Sallas Malone Elementary, where I'm speaking with students and teachers about how Jr. Beta is helping the classroom.

One teacher educating a class of 20 plus students is no small feat.

Jr. Beta students like Kinsley Walker and Maleah Bell use their elective time once a week to give one-on-one time with their younger peers.

Maleah tells me that while Jr. Beta's focus in school is helping out teachers with different roles in class, they're about helping people in general.

"Jr. Beta, like we love to help kids and we also do charities fundraisers, and we just love to help people."

Kinsley tells me reading and sounding out words were hard for her when she was younger, so now that she's in fifth grade, she's more than happy to help.

"Teachers have a lot of sounding out words or math so they really struggle with like their A's and their ES or their R's so I just try to help them knowing that I was back there and I've been there before I just try to help them from my perspective."

The hour of helps makes a big difference.

"Lots of meetings... a lot of preparations..."

Jennifer Carlson is Catalyst teacher for Sallas Mahone's Gifted program and the head of Jr. Beta.

She tells me a lot goes into a teacher's day, especially since many are handling the load by themselves.

"We are expected to be here at 7:00 or before students walk in the door at 7:00 so we are we have to be prepared by then for the whole day there are many other responsibilities for teachers that are in charge of clubs or yearbook."

For more insight, I checked withDepartment of Education.

Georgia as a whole has teacher shortages in the subjects across the board.

A survey of 5,000 Georgia teachersfound that three out of 10 teachers would leave the profession in the next five years due to burnout and lack of help and resources.

Jr. Beta hopes to alleviate some of that stress, especially Kinsley, who hopes to become a teacher herself.

"I've always wanted to become a teacher when I grow up because I always loved the way they encouraged kids to be the best they can."

The Jr. Beta program is an ongoing initiative at Sallas Mahone, and students will be assisting teachers every Tuesday morning. In Valdosta, I'm Malia Thomas, reporting for ABC27.