03/31/09 — Schools still plan to look for new teachers

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Schools still plan to look for new teachers

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on March 31, 2009 1:46 PM

Wayne County school officials are hoping Saturday's teacher job fair will attract educators, and are offering several incentives to lure candidates -- even if they are not yet sure what the budget will be to hire them.

The annual job fair will be 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Goldsboro High School, with representatives from each of the 33 Wayne County Public Schools on hand. Principals will provide a list of openings at their respective schools and conduct on-site interviews that day, said Marvin McCoy, assistant superintendent for human resources.

Lacking a budget, however, no contracts will be offered, he said.

"There will be some offers made because even without cuts, there's still the shortage in the areas of math and science, specialty areas like consumer science," he said.

The economic turn has made for an "interesting year" in education, McCoy said.

A number of retirees have returned to fill vacancies in the school system, he said. And while they have done a remarkable job, with more retirements anticipated at the close of the school year, McCoy said the district is looking for "full-time, 30-year employees."

"We want to have teachers that will have the potential for a 30-year commitment," he said.

Despite the news that other districts have had to cut personnel and lay off teachers, McCoy said recruitment efforts in Wayne County are ongoing.

"We were very fortunate to grow our own in special ed, where we encourage a lot of our teacher assistants to go to school," he said. "For the first time, all of our special ed vacancies are full."

Partnerships with the Chamber of Commerce and the business community have also proved advantageous, with efforts being made to offer extra incentives to bring educators to the county.

The school system currently offers a $2,000 sign-on bonus for certified teachers, as well as a 6.5 percent annual supplement, McCoy said.

"Once we find out where the cuts are, if any of the needs will still be there, we can attract some of the best who may have been laid off in other places," he said. "We won't know until Raleigh -- the General Assembly -- it's up to them to sort through. We have had (the budget) as early as July 1, as late as October."

Prospective teachers are encouraged to attend the job fair, whether experienced or not. Lateral entry teachers -- those with a college degree but lacking certification -- are always needed, McCoy said, and can work in a school while obtaining the necessary credentials.

"Come in. The face-to-face interviews are always the best, when you're able to sell yourself to the potential schools or principals," he said. "If you're there with your best foot forward, you'll be the one selected for the job."

The atmosphere at this year's job fair promises to have a special flavor, said Beverly Carroll, exceptional children's coordinator for the district, who has chaired the teacher recruitment/retention committee.

"When they arrive, they're going to be greeted by a combination of some of our lead teachers and students from the Teacher Academy (at Southern Wayne High School)," she said.

They will then be greeted by the Wayne County Travel and Tourism booth, she said, promoting the fact that Wayne County is not only a great place to work, but a great place to live.

The business community was also instrumental in putting together canvas "goodie" bags for each applicant -- from pencils and pens to Post-It notes and calendars.

And the participants have gone all out, with candy, balloons and decorative booths to attract and entice teachers, Mrs. Carroll said.

"Every school will have their own booth and let me tell you, the game is on," she said. "All's fair in job-seeking. ... It's really neat to see how much involvement they have."

There will also be a hospitality garden with food donated by various area companies and vendors, representing the surrounding community, Mrs. Carroll said.

Such incentives, with more expected, are important with the competition heating up, she noted.

"Every year we have people coming in from Michigan, Ohio -- it's very far-reaching," she said. "You'll be attracting a teacher, sometimes you're getting two teachers in the family. Sometimes you're getting only one teacher, but you're bringing someone else into the area."