published: Sunday, August 18, 2013
District adds 122 new teachers
By SAMANTHA GHOLAR
SEBRING -- Highlands County students will see a slew of new faces in the hallways and classrooms when they get on campus Monday for the first day of the 2013-2014 school year.
After a large amount of retirees bid farewell to their teaching days at the end of last school year, the Highlands County School District's Human Resources, Recruitment and Professional Development (HRRPD) department knew this recruitment year would be a big one.
Vivianne Waldron, HRRPD director, set a goal of hiring 130 new teachers for the district in June and has nearly completed the goal.
"We have 122 new teachers to the district," said Waldron. "We had lots of vacancies at the end of the school year. Woodlawn and Memorial specifically had several. The large majority of the vacancies were at the elementary level."
Compared to secondary schools, about 60 percent of the newly hired teachers will be working in the elementary schools this year.
Waldron and her team of recruiters and human resources personnel attended the Great Florida Teach-In in Tampa in early June. There, Waldron was able to make connections with a large majority of the new instructors that will be in classrooms this year.
"We had the opportunity to interview a lot of highly qualified teachers there. The group we've hired this year are more experienced and capable than any group we've had recently," Waldron said. "We just feel really confident about these teachers."
Almost all of the new hires are from out of county. Waldron and the HR department spearheaded a wide range of advertising to promote Highlands County as a destination where teachers can come and be a vital part of students' lives.
"Advertising was done in many places -- online, teacher magazines, job boards, minority publications, just everywhere. We still have seven ads out there for a few positions, looking for a vision impaired instructor and a few other instructors," Waldron said.
The biggest challenge Waldron has had to face is recruiting minority professionals to the area. A large emphasis was placed this year on getting different ethnic groups to come to the county and instruct.
"We try more every year to get a larger representation of minority teachers. It's a challenge. It's hard to get minorities, specifically young minorities, to move here to teach. There's just not a lot of things for the demographic to enjoy here. We need the qualified, minority teachers more and more and we are excited to say that this year we were successful in recruiting a larger number of Hispanic and African-American teachers," said Waldron.
The 2013-2014 school year has proven to be the second largest teacher recruitment in recent years -- in 2007 the district added 160 teachers. Last school year, Waldron and the HR department hired just over 60 new instructors.
"I can't say for sure, but we are expecting the enrollment numbers to be up so we definitely need the teachers in the classrooms this year. The superintendent will begin counting on Monday. The second week in October the numbers are reported to the DOE (Department of Education). Around mid-October, if class sizes are too large we then will have to recruit more instructors or place certified teacher's assistants in classrooms," said Waldron. "Having qualified, capable teachers in the classroom is the most important thing for these students."
The Highlands County School District has a total of 900 instructors.
Re: A shame? (by: It's not rocket science - 8/19/2013)
Do we really need to talk about what's wrong with this picture? Highlands County pays miserably, there's nothing to do there, and a teacher's job stability is unheard of. Just a few years back, secondary teachers had zero planning time and now in Florida, teachers no longer have fully funded retirement or health care. Yet, their job responsibilities have dramatically increased & the risks associated with a profession requiring a highly specialized degree are slowly outweighing the benefits. Yes, sign me to come to a rural county to work myself to death for $34k a year with zero job security.
(by: BF - 8/19/2013)
Instead of hiring the best qualified personnel for the job... recruiters focus on women and minorities to fill teaching positions to build their political base. This isn't about excellence, it's about politics.
A shame? (by: Anonymous - 8/18/2013)
You must not have looked into the middles schools. A sebring secondary school(unnamed) has lost 20+ teacher/staff and is still looking for a couple of teachers to hire. What's wrong with this picture, and it's not retiree's.
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