As the school year accelerates its springtime descent into summer and teachers and students prepare for a little fun and rest, those in charge of hiring for school districts press into the challenge of preparing for a new year.
About 500 registered and close to that many attended Saturday the Killeen Independent School District’s annual teacher job fair at Harker Heights High School, looking to make personal connection in a highly relational career.
The hiring season never really ends, but picks up this time of year.
“Every year, the need is greater,” said Chief Human Resources Officer Steve Cook as he surveyed a school cafeteria filled with tables representing each district school. “We push forward every year.”
Since last spring, roughly one calendar year, KISD has hired 600 teachers, 160 other professionals and 900 auxiliary personnel such as bus drivers, classroom aides and cafeteria workers.
“That’s the most teachers we’ve hired in that timeframe,” Cook said.
The numbers testify to the importance of the district’s annual teacher job fair. Just about 300 Texas certified teachers and 150 others checked in to Saturday’s event with an hour or so left. Usually, the district hires about 100 teachers from the annual fair.
Applicants registered outside the school auditorium, where they had the opportunity to inquire about auxiliary positions and alternative certification programs in Texas. Next, certified teachers entered the cafeteria to visit the campus tables and interviewed in 54 set-aside classrooms.
The teacher applicants, as always, came from all over with varied stories from fresh out of college, to military spouses to mid-year career changes.
Desmond Lewis, a Houston-area social worker, came to the job fair looking for a position in the school district where he grew up. The former Bellaire Elementary, Nolan Middle School and Ellison High School student greeted all his former principals.
“It’s refreshing to be back here,” he said, noting he had been gone from Killeen six years. “It’s good to see that a lot of the good things about Killeen are the same.”
As a high school student, Lewis attended the Texas Bioscience Institute. Now, he hopes to combine his love for helping students and families with his interest in science. “I’ve dealt with lots of children and families and schools and I’d like to experience the other side.”
Josh Hughes, a coach and teacher in Taylor ISD hopes to whittle his commute from his home in Little River and spend more time with his own 10- and 3-year-olds. He worked in government and in business as an account manager before entering teaching.
“I like working with students,” he said. “I didn’t enjoy school when I was young, but now I love being in there and hearing their stories and being able to connect with them and the different personalities.”
Leigh Feathers, a military spouse, has taught or worked as a classroom aide in Georgia, Virginia and Germany and is now a certified teacher in Texas. She praised the KISD job fair.
“This is a great way to see a lot of faces in one place,” she said. “I think it’s well-organized and so much better than doing it all online.”
Teaching, she said, is an opportunity to share lessons learned all over the world. “I like to share with kids the world is not such a small place,” she said. “We’ve been around the world and I think they need to know your world is not just your one little neighborhood.”
“It’s great to see everyone excited about education and wanting to help kids,” Cook said. “We work hard to find that heart for teaching. It’s nice to see.”