The 2022 Teacher of the Year in Georgia's largest school district has quit his job, citing frustrations that many Georgia teachers are facing.
Math teacher Lee Allen of Archer High School in Gwinnett County, Georgia, spent his last day on the job Friday. He started his education career at Northwest Whitfield High School in 2014 before starting in Gwinnett in 2019.
Archer said issues include teacher burnout, student-parent apathy, large classes and cellphones.
"The issues we're facing currently are familiar issues in education, but they're exacerbated from COVID," he said. "Large education systems can sometimes be slow to change. I just felt these things that we're returning to, it was really affecting me, and I was afraid if I didn't do something, I'd leave the profession entirely."
He said that he decided to go public with his decision to quit in order to call attention to the issues while he has a platform as Teacher of the Year.
"Ultimately, I did it because I care. I care about students, teachers and the public education system as a whole," he said. "I talked with several teachers across my district, and not everyone's had a bad year, but there are many teachers currently struggling."
Allen said he'd like administrators to listen to teachers more and for parents to be more involved in their children's education.
Although he won't knock any pay increase, including the one recently enacted by Georgia lawmakers, he said pay hasn't been the determining factor in what teachers are struggling through right now.
He used to work as a project manager in the information technology field.
"When I changed careers, I said that I would make half as much money and work twice as hard but love teaching and helping people so much more," he said. "Right now, that's my current plan."
Allen said he'll continue teaching, but in a smaller school district.