> August 27, 2007 > With Turnover High, Schools Fight for Teachers > By SAM DILLON > > GREENSBORO, N.C.
> "But most of the urban districts have no coherent > hiring strategy", he said. Many receive thousands > of teacher applications in the spring but leave them > unprocessed until principals return from August > vacations, when more organized suburban districts > have already hired the most-qualified teachers, he said.
This suggests an obvious local solution to the problem, although not a global solution. By "local solution", I mean something a particular go-getter Principal can do that would make a huge difference for his school, although not if every (or even just enough) Principal(s) did it. What I'm talking about is using some common sense in looking for candidates. If they're in short supply, then you need to appropriately covet the applicants.
I'm reminded of the time I was looking for a teaching position in Spring 1988 as a candidate in South Carolina's alternative certification "Critical Needs Program". While I got a couple of interviews in the Columbia, SC area (where I was living at the time), I basically heard nothing from the several dozen applications and inquirers I made throughout the state. Then, I think it was mid to late May 1988, I got a phone call from a Principal who got my name off a job bank list, asking if I'd be interested in driving down (about 100 miles away) for an interview. Given that I was pretty desperate by then, I said yes, and we arranged for me to visit within the next two or three days.
The Principal pretty much sold me on the position. After asking about the extent of my tennis background (mentioned on my SC State Teacher applicant data sheet), he said I was welcome to coach tennis if I wanted, especially since last year's coach had left the school for a position elsewhere. Because housing in this extremely poor area of the state was almost non-existent (this county was first in the state in virtually every poverty demographic), he offered to rent a trailer he owned for me to live in. Because of my math background, he offered me geometry and the highest level "general math" (i.e. pre-algebra) to teach. He couldn't give me algebra 2 or precalculus because a long-time teacher (who was also considered among the top 2 or 3 teachers at the school) had a lock on those courses, and the school didn't offer calculus.
I was virtually broke at the time, with no savings, no credit cards, and my parents were just getting by so it would have been very difficult for them to lend me a few hundred dollars, so by staying in the Principal's trailer I didn't have to come up with a deposit and first month's rent when I moved -- he said I could pay him gradually as my first few paychecks came in. To save on moving expenses, he also let me borrow his pick-up truck for things I couldn't fit into my car, and he even got one of the school's janitors to help me move. He paid the janitor out of his own pocket, the janitor working as a private individual and not as a school employee.
If this Principal had not contacted me first, I probably would not have known about the opening (this was before the internet), since the school was well off my radar at the time. At the time my radar was focused on a position where I could teach at least one or two honors level algebra classes or upper level classes (e.g. precalculus), maybe calculus if the moon turned blue. However, I was too inexperienced to realize that these positions are extremely rare and the few that existed were essentially unattainable for a beginning teacher, at least at that time in South Carolina. (It may be different now and it may have been different elsewhere back then.)
This Principal didn't have "thousands of teacher applications", or even a handful from what I seem to recall, and yet he managed to get the job done, year after year. Unfortunately, despite his efforts and despite his ability as a Principal (a few years before I arrived, he was brought in, at the state level I think, in an attempt to turn the school around ), many of these new teachers only stayed a year or two. Nevertheless, he always managed to fill the positions, going "out of the box" when necessary. For example, a couple of years before I was there he managed to bring in a provisionally certified teacher with a Ph.D. in math, who I believe was able to use the experience to get a position teaching advanced high school mathematics at one of the better suburban districts in the state.
 Due to circumstances I don't know the details about, he wound up leaving a few years after I left and, within a few years after that, the school district became the first (and only that I'm aware of) to be taken over by the SC Department of Education.