Local News

Wake Schools Job Fair Attracts Teacher Candidates

Posted December 10, 2003

— Seven new public schools are scheduled to open in Wake County next year to catch up with a growing student population. School leaders held their annual fall job fair to staff those schools and fill current vacancies.

With 500 people competing for 174 current teacher vacancies, it would not look like Wake County has a recruiting problem. But impressive resumes do not always produce great teachers.

Michelle Schilling is one of many planning to make a lateral move from the business world to the classroom. She is not certified yet, but has valuable real-world experience in the Marine Corps and security management.

"It's my goal to become a teacher," she said. "I've already had my transcripts evaluated, now I need to actually speak with principals and get a position within the schools so I can actually start the licensing process."

Many lateral-entry applicants are victims of industry layoffs.

Wake County administrators said this group of applicants can fill some critical needs.

"That would be the areas of math, science, special programs, foreign language -- that's where we really have our shortage," said Diane Kent-Parker of Wake County Public Schools.

With newer and higher testing standards, the pressure is on for principals to hire the best teachers. Some said certification and experience alone are not enough.

"I like to see first and foremost, a teacher who has the heart for teaching. During our interview process I hope that I can see that commitment to teaching and that commitment to learning," said Gig Harris, Stough Elementary principal.

Rydel Harrison believes his love for teaching is his strongest selling point.

"I've been a classroom teacher in the past and I really miss being in the classroom. There's a look [students] get in their eyes when they're proud of themselves and they're excited about the work that's going on. That's not a look that you can find anywhere else."

Harrison and other teacher candidates hope to find that "look" in a Wake County classroom.

Wake County expects more than 2,000 candidates to show up for its spring teacher job fair on May 22.

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