NEW MEXICO (KRQE) –  It’s no secret public schools across the state are struggling to fill teacher vacancies. Now, a New Mexico group is highlighting issues they claim could be contributing to the shortage.

New Mexico school leaders and prospective teachers shared their ideas on Wednesday, discussing how they think New Mexico schools can get better at recruiting and retaining educators.

The Golden Apple Foundation has made it a mission to find and keep good teachers in New Mexico schools, and they say the job has never been harder.

“The teacher shortage is vast, not only the teacher shortage, but also the need again, as I talked about before, is for high-quality teachers,” said Golden Apple Foundation For Excellence in Teaching President Alan Mather. 

In a Round Table discussion Wednesday, aspiring teachers along with state educators described the struggles of being an educator in New Mexico. Cuba Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Karen Sanchez-Griego explained educators aren’t being respected.

“No other profession comes about unless you have a teacher, so how can you go without teachers if you don’t pay them well,” said Sanchez-Griego.

“I want to be a teacher because I know there are other students out there that are going to need somebody to give them a voice to show them the way that it is okay to be themselves,” said Golden Apple Scholar Ricky Gallegos.

They say it’s one of the top priorities necessary to recruit and retain teachers across New Mexico classrooms.

The Golden Apple Foundation is encouraging aspiring teachers to apply for a scholarship through their program, saying they will provide mentoring as students become educators in New Mexico.

Golden Apple teaching applications are currently open.