06/03/12 — County schols battle to fill exceptional children teacher jobs

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County schols battle to fill exceptional children teacher jobs

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on June 3, 2012 1:50 AM

There continues to be a demand for exceptional children teachers, an area formerly known as "special ed," and officials say they are trying to stay ahead of the need.

"We may be down four or five," said Dr. Marvin McCoy, assistant superintendent for human resource services in Wayne County Public Schools. "It's not a landslide. We're constantly shopping, and we're constantly recruiting."

The district currently employs more than 160 in its EC program and, with upcoming retirements, will likely need to find replacements in 10 positions.

"We're getting our allotments this week, the state will allocate us," he said. "The number of students will call for or dictate the number of positions."

EC teachers are assigned throughout grades K-12, he said. They are certified teachers who cater to a full range of needs, be it the specialized Edgewood Community Developmental School or the regular classroom settings.

The most severe and profound area to serve, McCoy said, would be at Edgewood, which specifically serves that population.

As another school year wraps up and retirements and relocations - the two biggest reasons for special ed vacancies, McCoy said -- his staff shores up efforts to replenish the pool.

"Six years ago when I first came to this job, I established and held a TA Jamboree," he said. "I encouraged all the teacher assistants in the varying fields to go back to school and get their degrees.

"They had them in varying areas and many of them are our classroom teachers today. Through Wachovia Partnership East -- now Wells Fargo -- we were very fortunate to get a lot of teachers to take us up on that and they became certified teachers through the Partnership East program.

"We have been very fortunate that they have accepted the call. There will be that push again."

Of course, in such cases, it helped that the aspiring teachers had already worked in the classroom so they were more keenly aware of the needs of those students.

McCoy has also researched ways of retaining educators.

"I did research on why beginning teachers are leaving the profession," he said. "One of the biggest reasons is lack of support. Our new beginning teachers program, that's what's enabled us to keep our teachers, plus constant mentor support and administrator support."

Strapped state budgets and constraints on allotments have slowed the process of hiring, but McCoy said he is confident that the slots will be filled for the next school year.

One thing that has helped, at least at Edgewood, is that the school has historically maintained a strong reputation.

"There are people that actually move here because of our specialty school," McCoy said. "And with that, there are teachers who have relocated because of our special school and our potential for employment."