Teachers and persons looking for their first teaching job from around the state braved the ninety degree heat to trek to Columbia for the 21st annual South Carolina Teacher Expo on Monday.
Only half of the school districts participated in the event sponsored by the State Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention and Advancement. Over 2,000 persons pre-registered for the event nearly twice the number as a year ago. Teaching jobs are at a premium considering the budget cuts spurred by the recession and the uncertainty involved with the fight over stimulus dollars for education tied up in the court system. Michele Nimmons is Director of Human Resource Services for Bamberg County School District Two. Nimmons says schools districts in rural areas like Bamberg County are always in need of qualified teaching candidates and Monday’s event brought out a number of interesting prospects.
“When the gates opened this morning there was a line from my table at the back of the room to the gate waiting to see what Bamberg Two had to offer which is a new experience for us. We’re very excited about having the opportunity to look at a hundred plus candidates today.”
Nimmons says her district is looking primarily for teachers in the fields of Physics, English, Band, and Elementary Music.
Recent Converse College graduate Ralph Fowler, searching for his first teaching job, came away from the job fair with mixed feelings. Fowler is an older than average college graduate because he worked a few years before deciding to go to college. Fowler says when he started college a few years ago he figured that teaching was a profession that was relatively recession proof, but times have changed. Fowler is starting a family and is still holding out hope of finding a teaching position in his field of Social Studies within a 50 mile radius of Spartanburg.
“I just had a little girl and I just purchased a house. It’s just not feasible for me right now to move away a long distance. My next option is I’m going to look up principals and personally e-mail them and send them resumes and hope that I get a bite from them.”
Fowler says currently the teaching positions in his field of study are more plentiful in the Midlands and the Lowcounty.
Dr. Iqbal (ig-bal) Sharif (sha-reef) is currently conducting post-doctoral research at Clemson University in the field of fuel cell development. Sharif says he came to the job fair looking to return to his first love which is teaching.
“I taught in Nigeria, England and Pakistan and other parts of the world. I love Chemsistry I tell you and i want to go back to teaching Chemistry now. There are a lot of opportunities in this country and I think there is a lack of science teachers as well.”
Sharif says he could see himself teaching in the fall and winter and working on research projects during the summer.
Professional Employment Recruiter for Greenville County Schools Lillian Flemming says a number of plans and hires are up in the air because of the uncertainty involved with the fight over stimulus money that is now in the courts.
“It’s difficult to plan because it’s difficult to plan for the amount of money and the class size. That is what has us in limbo.”