Atlantic County Institute of Technology curriculum supervisor Johanna Johnson had good news Friday for prospective teachers at the Richard Stockton College Teacher Job Fair.
“We are hiring,” said Johnson, who had a list of 18 jobs ACIT needs to fill, including special education, English, Spanish, French, chemistry, biology, TV/film, information technology and dance.
The school is adding a new Performing Arts Academy in September. Enrollment is growing and creating a need for new positions.
It was good news for Erin Spencer, of Toms River, who will graduate in May with degrees in biology and teacher education. She hopes to stay a little closer to home, but is primarily looking for a job.
The news was a little less optimistic for elementary school teachers, who were told that any openings at all will likely depend on how many teachers retire. Property tax caps are making budgets tight, so few districts have new openings.
“It’s very tough,” said Kristen Scaffidi, of Hammonton, who is getting certified to teach kindergarten through fifth-grade. “But I really love the kids at that age, and I had a great experience student-teaching in Hammonton.”
Most recruiters are advising elementary teachers to get additional certifications. Scaffidi is planning to add a special education certification to work with handicapped children, so she also stopped to talk to recruiters at the Pinelands Learning Center in Vineland.
Danielle Taylor, director of clinical services at Pinelands Learning Center, said they are always looking, but their hiring depends on enrollment, which as a private school can vary from year to year.
Thomas Ludwig, a supervisor at the kindergarten through eighth-grade Galloway Community Charter School, said enrollment also drives their hiring, but they anticipate enrolling some students from the Oceanside Charter School in Atlantic City, which is closing.
Most of the posted open jobs were specialty positions in high school subjects. Recruiters from Galloway Township, Egg Harbor Township and Greater Egg Harbor Regional had a steady stream of applicants, if not a lot of openings.
Claudine Keenan, dean of the teacher education program at Stockton, said they have reworked the program so that students can get both a subject-area degree and teacher education degree in four years. The Career Center also advised students to be prepared and dress professionally for interviews, which did not go unnoticed.
Tabitha Bradley, of the Keansburg School District in Monmouth County, said she was very impressed by the quality of candidates at Stockton.
“They speak well, they dress well, and they are well-prepared,” she said, noting the binders applicants brought with them of lesson plans and projects they have done.
Still, the job market is competitive.
Husband and wife John and Jessie Stackhouse, of Ventnor, are both looking for teaching jobs. Jessie, an art teacher, has been working part time in Absecon for three years, and is still trying to find a full-time job.
“I love it in Absecon,” she said. “But I need a bigger paycheck.”
John Stackhouse is looking for an elementary or middle school math position. He decided to try teaching after listening to his wife come home excited about her job.
“She gave me the teaching bug,” he said.
Both he and Kelly Schlemo, of Linwood, a prospective art teacher also working toward a second certification in English, did their student teaching in Atlantic City schools, which could help them. Atlantic City plans to re-open the Brighton Avenue School to relieve overcrowding, and will hire new teachers to staff it.
Stackhouse, who is certified in elementary education with advanced standing in math and social studies, is hoping he impressed staff during his student teaching at the Uptown Complex to get good recommendations for a full-time job in Atlantic City.
“The minute I heard there would be jobs I started getting resumes ready,” he said. “I had a great experience at Uptown.”
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