Future of Teaching

Shelby County Schools continues to hire teachers, job fair planned later this week

With just three weeks before the school year begins, Shelby County Schools administrators continue to rapidly hire dozens of laid-off teachers.

Nearly 300 laid-off teachers have been rehired in less than a month, leaving just 75 teachers who were laid off last spring who have yet to find a job. Originally 1,000 teachers were displaced after the district closed 10 schools and lost thousands of students to the Achievement School District, charter schools and six newly-formed municipalities last school year. The district gave displaced teachers until June 30 to find a new job or lose their salaries and benefits.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson II has said the district’s goal is to ensure that every classroom has a high-quality teacher. The majority of the teachers laid off by the district who hadn’t found jobs by June 24 failed to meet the district’s minimal state standards, administrators said.

How teachers are hired this year has been topic of public debate during Shelby County School Board meetings and prompted a lawsuit filed by five displaced tenured teachers who disagreed with the district’s hiring practices. They argue laid off tenure teachers should be guaranteed a job rather than have to search for one.

Sheila Redick, head of teacher hiring for the district, said her office is working to ensure teachers get exposure to principals looking to fill vacant positions. “We want to ensure that they’ve had a chance,” Redick said.

School officials need to fill 100 to 150 vacancies before teacher training begins on July 28.  Redick said the district is on target to have 300 to 400 open positions by the end of month.

Shelby County Schools will continue the hiring frenzy with another job fair tentatively scheduled for Friday or Saturday, Redick said.  The district also held a hiring fair on June 30, which was the last day for affected teachers to secure employment before being added to the wait list on July 1.

Contact Tajuana Cheshier at [email protected] and (901) 730-4013.

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Top teacher

Franklin educator is Tennessee’s 2018-19 Teacher of the Year

PHOTO: TDOE
Melissa Miller leads her students in a learning game at Franklin Elementary School in Franklin Special School District in Williamson County. Miller is Tennessee's 2018-19 Teacher of the Year.

A first-grade teacher in Franklin is Tennessee’s Teacher of the Year.

Melissa Miller

Melissa Miller, who works at Franklin Elementary School, received the 2018-19 honor for excellence in the classroom Thursday evening during a banquet in Nashville.

A teacher for 19 years, she is National Board Certified, serves as a team leader and mentor at her school, and trains her colleagues on curriculum and technology in Franklin’s city school district in Williamson County, just south of Nashville. She will represent Tennessee in national competition and serve on several working groups with the state education department.

Miller was one of nine finalists statewide for the award, which has been presented to a Tennessee public school teacher most every year since 1960 as a way to promote respect and appreciation for the profession. The finalists were chosen based on scoring from a panel of educators; three regional winners were narrowed down following interviews.

In addition to Miller, who also won in Middle Tennessee, the state recognized Lori Farley, a media specialist at North City Elementary School in Athens City Schools, in East Tennessee. Michael Robinson, a high school social studies teacher at Houston High School in Germantown Municipal School District, was this year’s top teacher in West Tennessee.

Education Commissioner Candice McQueen praised the finalists for leading their students to impressive academic gains and growth. She noted that “teachers are the single most important factor in improving students’ achievement.”

Last year’s statewide winner was Cicely Woodard, an eighth-grade math teacher in Nashville who has since moved to a middle school in the same Franklin district as Miller.

You can learn more about Tennessee’s Teacher of the Year program here.

PSA

Have you thought about teaching? Colorado teachers union sells the profession in new videos

PHOTO: Colorado Education Association

There are a lot of factors contributing to a shortage of teachers in Colorado and around the nation. One of them — with potentially long-term consequences — is that far fewer people are enrolling in or graduating from teacher preparation programs. A recent poll found that more than half of respondents, citing low pay and lack of respect, would not want their children to become teachers.

Earlier this year, one middle school teacher told Chalkbeat the state should invest in public service announcements to promote the profession.

“We could use some resources in Colorado to highlight how attractive teaching is, for the intangibles,” said Mary Hulac, who teaches English in the Greeley-Evans district. “I tell my students every day, this is the best job.

“You learn every day as a teacher. I’m a language arts teacher. When we talk about themes, and I hear a story through another student’s perspective, it’s always exciting and new.”

The Colorado Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, has brought some resources to help get that message out with a series of videos aimed at “up-and-coming professionals deciding on a career.” A spokesman declined to say how much the union was putting into the ad buy.

The theme of the ads is: “Change a life. Change the world.”

“Nowhere but in the education profession can a person have such a profound impact on the lives of students,” association President Amie Baca-Oehlert said in a press release. “We want to show that teaching is a wonderful and noble profession.”

As the union notes, “Opportunities to teach in Colorado are abundant.”

One of the ads features 2018 Colorado Teacher of the Year Christina Randle.

“Are you ready to be a positive role model for kids and have a direct impact on the future?” Randle asks.

Another features an education student who was inspired by her own teachers and a 20-year veteran talking about how much she loves her job.

How would you sell the teaching profession to someone considering their career options? Let us know at [email protected].