Some 32 applicants turned up for a teacher’s job fair this week, looking to snap up one of the 48 openings district officials had to fill.
And as challenging as teaching during a pandemic might be, many who came out did indeed land jobs — and quickly, too.
Many who attended Thursday’s socially distanced job fair at the school district’s headquarters walked away with contracts, like Kristen Schendowich, who drove from Hollywood in South Florida. She has taught 15 years in the Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
“I was excited to come and will be here in about three weeks,” said Schendowich, who has taught language arts and likes working in middle schools. “My family will be moving up with me.”
Tonya Nunn, a personnel specialist and employment verifications for the Alachua County Public Schools system, said district officials advertised the job fair on Facebook, Twitter, the school system’s website and through community churches. Nunn was the point person, welcoming prospective teachers and answering questions.
“It went well,” Nunn said. “Those interested can still apply for teaching positions.”
Leah Cobb Lee, who has been in Gainesville for about 13 years, is a graduate of the University of Florida and was a teaching assistant for the department of environmental horticulture during her master’s and doctorate programs.
“I feel like I started in public schools,” she said. “Before I went to grad school, my plan was to teach in public schools, and I got sidetracked with grad school for a while. But now I’m back to continue what I had started.”
She said she would like to teach science in middle or high school.
With concerns about COVID-19 as well as challenges in the classroom that include trying to teach an in-person class simultaneously with children watching online from home, many Alachua County teachers have stepped down, leaving plenty of openings.
Kevin Purvis, assistant superintendent in charge of human resources, was one of those who interviewed teacher prospects.
“We had a lot of quality applicants that we are excited about,” he said. “We are going to facilitate that information to our principals. We are always looking for quality people to get in front of our students.”
Purvis said those who applied didn’t seem too worried about the virus and were gung-ho about teaching.
“They are ready to get in front of our kids,” Purvis said. “I know we offered some contracts to some of them. This is a challenge. I’m so proud of all of our teachers and those we want to hire because it is a tough time to be doing it. But they do incredible things.”