Educators looking to work in the Santa Clarita Valley attended a Teacher Recruitment Fair on Saturday hosted by five area school districts at Rancho Pico Junior High School.
This was the first time the fair was been held since 2008 and comes amid a nationwide shortage of educators that appeared during the pandemic.
“Across the country, there are staffing shortages in every industry, but particularly in education,” said Collyn Nielsen, assistant superintendent of the William S. Hart Union High School District. “So we’re trying to find some great candidates out there who want to teach in our districts or who want to be counselors, school psychologists, [etc.].”
Around 100 candidates attended the event, which featured sessions on credentialing, substitute teaching and special education — in addition to on-site interviews. Nielsen said teachers of subjects such as math, science and special needs are some of the most in-demand positions at local schools.
Although no contracts were going to be offered at the event, at least by the Hart district, Nielsen said as many as 50 positions open up each year and that events like these are great ways to stamp those openings.
“We’re identifying top-notch candidates that we can forward on to our principals when they’re scheduling their interviews for their sites,” said Nielsen.
One candidate, Caylen Underwood, is just about to finish her credential program at The Master’s University and had an interview with the Hart district at the event. Underwood said she’s hoping to become a seventh-grade science teacher, but that she’s keeping an open mind about where she’ll end up and is optimistic about getting a job.
“I actually heard that because teachers are in such high demand right now, that it’s pretty much like a 90% chance that you’re gonna get a job,” said Underwood. “It might not be the job that you want, but they are hiring because there is a shortage, that’s what I’ve been hearing.”
Underwood said she’s heard stories of teachers quitting without notice during the pandemic or retiring early and hopes these situations might create opportunities for young teachers like herself.
Dany Hermiz, a candidate at the event who’s been teaching physical education for 16 years, summarized the industry’s climate by saying, “This is the most jobs I’ve seen in the last 16 years.” But jobs in places like the SCV, in his subject, are usually hard to come by.
“It’s a myth that P.E. jobs are hard to find, there’s always a job that nobody wants,” said Hermiz. “Unfortunately, the good jobs that are in San Diego, Orange County, Valencia, no one leaves those jobs. What they do is, someone transfers in from another school and takes it, so those jobs are very hard to get. There’s always a job in the more low-income areas and that’s where I’ve been most of my career because I can’t get a good job, because no one leaves.”
Mallory Jones, coordinator of personnel and payroll for Castaic Union School District, said all of their slots for interviews were filled up at the event and they were thankful to have a wide range of candidates to choose from.
“We welcome people from all backgrounds, we love to have people from all sides of the spectrum. So, we appreciate any experience from incoming to veterans,” said Jones. “We’re very fortunate to have a good pool of applicants. We have built a great relationship with our community at Castaic and so anytime we have an elementary opening or middle school opening, whether that’s for gen-ed or special-ed, we do have a good selection to choose from. We’re really fortunate in that ballpark.”
Participating school districts included the Hart district, the Castaic district, Newhall School District, Saugus Union School District and Sulphur Springs Union School District.