Crowds of student teachers at The University of Texas-Pan American gathered Thursday, April 5 at the Fieldhouse for the annual Teacher Job Expo to meet with local, state and out-of-state school district representatives.
According to Enedelia Kidd, director of Career Placement Services - which sponsored the Teacher Job Expo - the five-hour event provides a great opportunity for students considering a career in education to make their future career plans, network with recruiters and learn about job opportunities.
"We've got a total of 65 school districts represented here today, and student turnout has been very good," Kidd said.
"Out-of-state recruiters get especially excited about these events because of the great amount of bilingual students and graduates we have at UTPA. Most of our student teachers also decide to stay in the Rio Grande Valley and be closer to home."
New York City recruiters met with interested applicants and conducted interviews during and after the expo. Maritza Lopez, a recruiter with the NYC Board of Education, said it allows them to get the bilingual graduates they desperately need.
"We have a critical shortage in all bilingual subject areas," Lopez said. "We have a projected vacancy of a minimum of 14,000 teachers to recruit by June, and in the next five years, we'll need somewhere between 64,000 to 80,000 teachers."
Edinburg school district recruiters also were on hand to meet with students.
"We, too, have a major shortage, and this is the Valley's major supply of teachers. So, this is our opportunity to capture and entice them to consider our school district," said Rebecca Morrison, Edinburg Independent School District supervisor of Human Resources.
"Edinburg is fortunate that we're in the same city as the University and many will want to continue their education at UT Pan Am. But with the Valley's teacher shortage and as much growth as the Valley is experiencing, we're not only trying to replace the teachers that retire or leave the Valley, but we're also trying to keep up with the growth."
Student teacher Marissa Garza is enticed by the higher pay for teachers outside of Texas. Still, she plans to stay and support the community where she received her education.
"You have lots of choices and that's great, but I would have to say that I would rather stay in the Valley, be closer to home and family and still continue my education here," said Garza, who is specializing in reading.