For school districts in rural Alaska, this is prime recruiting season. Next week, they’ll hold a job fair in downtown Anchorage, looking for teachers to fill hundreds of openings statewide. But they’re also looking outside the 49th state.
The Sitka School District went looking for teachers over the weekend. Three administrators from Sitka traveled to the Seattle area to attend job fairs full of applicants hoping to teach in Alaska. Casey Demmert is principal of Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School. He says there are 14 positions open in Sitka schools, including four at Keet, which serves grades 2 through 5.
“We’re at a point now in Sitka where we are really starting to have turnover with some of our more seasoned veteran teachers. Being able to bring in young teachers who can still get some mentoring and learn from some of those older teachers is important, too.”
Demmert, along with Blatchley Principal Ben White, and special education Director Mandy Evans, attended two different job fairs. The first was a large event in Tacoma open to districts across the Northwest, and the second was a smaller event only for Alaska districts.
That second event was put on by Alaska Teacher Placement, which is a program run by the University of Alaska system. It acts as a gateway for applicants hoping to work in the state. Toni McFadden is manages the teacher placement program. She says districts DO look inside Alaska for people to teach Alaskan children…
“…The problem is, we have a greater need for teachers than what our state is producing. We have a need for teachers to go to our rural communities. We might have teachers very willing to stay in Fairbanks if they went to UAF, or to stay in Anchorage if they went to UAA, finding people willing and excited to go to our rural communities is really more of a challenge.”
Sitka was among 17 Alaska school districts participating in Saturday’s job fair. The state as a whole has about 55 school districts, employing more than 8,100 teachers. Information on teaching jobs in Alaska is available at alaskateacher.org.