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Rockford Teacher Shortage Prompts Job Fair

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The nation is seeing a shortage in teachers. Specifically those in special education, bilingual, math and science. Rockford Public Schools (RPS) are no exception. School leaders held a job fair at district headquarters, hoping to fill dozens of open teaching positions.

“We are still sitting with openings,” said RPS Executive Director of Early Childhood, Kim Nelson. “Having an event like this today, where people can come in…they might’ve applied online but this just gives us an opportunity to talk with them.”

Mercedes Brain works as the Director of Talent Acquisition for the District. She believes the problem might come from the lack of interest in those subjects from college students.

“People (are) not going into those fields as of late,” said Brain. “So we don’t have a lot of recent graduates in those areas.”

The District also faced another challenge, thanks to a state law. If a student, whose first language isn’t English, enrolls at a school, their teachers must now have a second language endorsement to teach them.

“While we had time as a work force to prepare for that, we still are seeing a shortage,” said Nelson.

And with the school year right around the corner, they want to be prepared for their students.

“You definitely don’t want to start the school year with a substitute teacher,” said Barbour Two Way Language Immersion Principal, James Robinette. “It always makes it easier for the students to start with their teacher. That way they can start with the normal regular rules and regulations in the classroom.”

District administrators say applicants must meet specific standards, but one of those must be an excitement to be in Rockford.

“We look for people that are passionate about education,” said Brain. “But then, more so, the Rockford Public Schools and that they really want to join our team and be a part of our mission.”
 

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