FREEPORT, Ill. (WTVO) — Stateline students headed back to class this week, but the Freeport School District still dealing with a shortage of staff.

The past couple of school years have been hard nation wide, and the teacher shortage in Freeport is no different. Staff said that they combined their math and science classes instead of having a long-term subsitutue.

“Everyone that has passion for what they do, for the kids, serving the community, trying to make a difference, providing guidance things as such,” said Freeport High School world history teacher Julius Lagrone.

Lagrone has been in the Freeport School District for five years, and he said that the secret to having a long career as a teacher is having a passion for the students. He said that it is unfortunate, but there is a shortage in every area.

The biggest focus right now is the kids, according to Lagrone.

“The only thing we can control is coming in and serving the kids that are put in front of us, and just focusing on doing the best we can,” Lagrone said.

Dr. Beth Summers, principle of Freeport High School, said that the district as a whole has been future focused on how to grow the teaching profession through education pathways.

“[We] do have a student teacher in math this fall, for example, so we collapsed our math classes for the fall semester and we are going to spread them out in the spring semester when that student teacher becomes a full-time staff member,” Summers said. “We had a science teacher that wasn’t able to join us this fall, and so we collapsed a couple of science classes and made that work.”

Freeport High has taken three of their secretaries who already have degrees, and who have a passion for the students, and are helping them develop into full-time teaching staff.

“So, I think when you’re creative and you’re willing to look at all the possibilities and do what’s right for kids, put good teachers in front of them, we’re able to staff the building well this fall,” Summers said.

Both Summers and Lagrone are excited for what the year holds in store, and to see what future educators come from the Freeport area.

“You know, it will feel worth it, even if it’s only a few kids that you really feel attached to, that’s fine,” Lagrone said. “Just keep working, keep going and eventually, you know, those seeds you plant, they will grow even if you don’t see it.”

There are still many teacher, paraprofessionals and other staff positions open across the stateline.