So you want to hire a teacher?

April 18, 2013

Heller-Don-Teacher-Fair-2013

Last Monday, the MSU Career Services office, in conjunction with the College of Education, held its annual Teacher and Administrator Recruitment Fair at Spartan Stadium.  Almost all of our student teaching interns who are completing their year-long internships attend the fair, along with alumni, graduating students in our K-12 Educational Administration programs, and others.

Given the state of the economy, along with the demographics in Michigan (where the school-age population is now declining across the state), finding teaching jobs in Michigan can be a challenging endeavor for our graduates.  Our teacher education program, however, has long focused on preparing students to teach anywhere in the country, not just in the state of Michigan.  A survey conducted by Career Services of last year’s intern class found that among the roughly two-thirds of interns who completed the survey, 92 percent were employed (as of this past February), and another 4 percent were continuing their education.  Of those employed, one-third had taken jobs outside of Michigan.

The good news for our graduating class of interns (and for those of us concerned about their employment) is that there were 134 schools and school districts recruiting at this year’s job fair, an increase of 24 percent over last year’s event.  The other bright sign was that the number of recruiters from Michigan increased by about 24 percent.  The size of the event has increased so much over the years that it has outgrown the Huntington Club at Spartan Stadium, and next year it will be moved back to the Breslin Student Events Center.

As I did last year, I took the opportunity to drop by the recruitment fair and speak with personnel from a number of districts.  Many were repeat visitors, having recruited our graduates in the past, while others were first-timers.  I again heard many stories from the districts who had been here in the past about how well trained and prepared our graduates are to step foot in the classroom for their first professional positions.  Many pointed to the full-year internship in which our graduates participate before they become certified teachers, and the strong training that provides to them.

One of the more interesting conversations I had was with Karen Russell, Director of Human Resources for the North Slope Borough School District in Alaska.  As its name implies, the district covers the entire north slope of Alaska, an area about as remote from Michigan as you can get, and still be in continental North America.  The district contains approximately 2,250 students, most of whom are Inupiat Eskimo, spread across 11 schools and 88,000 square miles of territory.  That is not a typo – 88,000 square miles!  I’m not sure if this is geographically the largest school district in the nation, but I can’t think of any others that would be bigger.  Ms. Russell told me that she had been on the road since early March recruiting teachers to join her district.  We had a fascinating conversation about what her district is like and the challenges of recruiting teachers to work there.

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Later on Monday I attended the MSU Spartan Academic Excellence Gala, which honors student-athletes at the university who achieved a 3.0 grade point average, as well as those receiving special recognition.  The penultimate honor of the evening is the President’s Award, given to the male and female athletes graduating with the highest cumulative GPA.  Kinesiology student Corey Block received one of the two awards.  She graduated last December with a 3.96 GPA, and gave a wonderful speech at the banquet.  We are proud of Corey (who will be attending a graduate program in Physical Therapy at Ohio University in the fall), and the other 54 College of Education student-athletes for their accomplishments on the field as well as in the classroom.