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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – During the pandemic, teachers were asked to take on many new responsibilities, and teacher advocates say it’s a tough time to be an educator. However, a local organization is looking to relieve a bit of stress with a new free program for educators.

In recent months, a growing nationwide teacher shortage placed additional strain on educators.

“Our teachers were just juggling trying to keep kids on task or on the same learning track,” said Alabama Education Association District 3 Director Beverly Sims.

Teachers and support staff dealt with virtual learning situations and extended absences from students for more than a year.

“I have never seen our educators under so much stress and so many unrealistic expectations placed on them,” Sims said.

Some teachers are being asked to take on additional responsibilities like larger class sizes. A survey from the National Education Association reports that 55% of teachers have considered leaving the profession.

“I cannot tell you that I really received very many calls before COVID started with teachers and support personnel saying ‘I can’t take it anymore. I can’t do this. I’m about to have a mental breakdown,'” Sims said. “The past two years, I have heard that repeatedly.”

Now, a local organization is stepping up to offer free counseling services for teachers in North Alabama through Recharge.

“We definitely see the stress that educators are under, and so being able to give them a platform where they can access resources that help them to manage that stress and understand what things they can do proactively to help them stay well was the whole focus behind it,” said Rachael Sullivan, the owner of Solid Ground Counseling.

The Recharge program is partnered with solid ground counseling to offer two upcoming webinars for teachers.

“I think that often by nature the work that teachers do comes home a little bit, finding some ways to de-escalate that and get through that is important,” Sullivan said.

The webinars are scheduled to take place June 28 from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. CST and July 15 from 9:30 to 11:00 AM CST. Click here to register for one of these webinars.