Educators in the region are working to attract more people to the profession, pitching the rewards of helping students find and follow their passions in an effort to boost interest in the education profession.
A group of the region’s deputy and assistant superintendents organized an education career evening at Shenendehowa last week, welcoming 250 people or more to the school for a night of information sessions on the ins and outs of teaching.
The administrators put the event together in a bid to attract more people to jobs in education as they face dwindling applicant pools and worry about a decline in students attending college education programs.
“We are starting to see a change in the total number of applications,” said Elizabeth Wood, assistant superintendent for instruction at Shenendehowa and a key organizer of the career event. “Where we once had 800 applications for a job, we now have 200; where we once had 30, we now have eight.”
The shortage of applicants is even more acute in select teaching areas, Wood said, including special education, math and sciences, business, computer science and a variety of other subjects.
During the career event, hundreds of people filled Shenendehowa’s auditorium to listen to a panel of teachers from across the region. The teachers struck a similar note: it’s an incredible responsibility and privilege to teach children and set them up for the rest of their lives.
“We influence children, we have an awesome privilege to impact young children’s minds,” said Krystal Moore, a third-grade teacher in the Shenendehowa district.
The teachers on the panel represented a diverse set of districts, specialties and paths into the professions. A handful of them were so-called “career changers,” swapping out jobs as lawyers or engineers to lead a classroom.
“I did not want to be a teacher, never thought about it; I was not a student who liked school,” Moore said, adding that she wished she had someone in her schooling that helped “make that light bulb go on.” Her less-than-ideal experience as a student spurred her interest in teaching, she said.
“I never wanted a student to go through school feeling the way I did.”
Spencer Plott, an 18-year-old South Glens Falls senior, said he wants to pursue a career as an elementary school teacher. Raised by his grandparents and going to school in nearly a half dozen area districts over the years, Plott said teachers have had a major influence in his life.
“I’ve had people help me throughout my whole school career, I certainly had teachers who helped me,” he said. “I just want to be able to help others.”
Now hiring in Schenectady schools
Schenectady schools are working to fill dozens of positions in time for the start of next school year. The open jobs include administrative jobs – such as a pair of elementary principal positions – as well as nearly 50 teacher positions.
Lincoln and Paige elementary schools both need new principals for next school year, and a handful of assistant principal positions are also open across the district. The district is also looking to hire a top administrator to lead its general education continuum – an effort to provide more targeted services to struggling students.
At the teacher level, the district is looking to fill nearly a dozen elementary school positions, eight special education jobs and a smattering of positions across various subjects.