In June 2020, Marcus Pederson retired from his 35-year career of teaching band at the Pomeroy School District. Since then, the only district in Washington’s least populous county has been unable to hire a replacement. The reasons are unclear, but could have to do with the smaller district’s ability to offer a competitive salary, pressures on young music teachers or the challenge of recruiting teachers to rural schools.

Martin King, professor of music education at Washington State University, said WSU encourages its graduating students to apply for open jobs like this.

“It is always a concern that if a position like this goes unfilled, eventually the program may be cut,” King said. “We do not want that outcome.” From his perspective, rural schools face challenges in hiring specialists that they may not have in filling other faculty positions.

Part of it is a numbers game. King said there are more open music educator jobs in Washington than qualified teachers.

The majority of music students come from more populous areas, and these students are more likely to want to return to these areas to teach. They may feel uncomfortable moving to a rural town or teaching at a smaller school.

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